A Micro-Aerial Vehicle based on Supervised Autonomy for Vessel Visual Inspection

Authors Francisco Bonnín Pascual | Alberto Ortiz Rodriguez | Emilio García Fidalgo | Joan Pep Company Corcoles
In March, 2015.


Seagoing vessels have to undergo regular visual inspections in order to detect the typical defective situations affecting metallic structures, such as cracks and corrosion. These inspections are currently performed by ship surveyors manually at a great cost. To make ship inspections safer and more cost-efficient, this paper presents a Micro-Aerial Vehicle (MAV) intended for visual inspection and based on supervised autonomy. On the one hand, the vehicle is equipped with a vision system that effectively teleports the surveyor from the base station to the areas of the hull that need inspection. On the other hand, the MAV is the result of a complete redesign of a visual inspection-oriented aerial platform that we proposed some years ago, with the aim of introducing the surveyor in the control loop and, in this way, enlarge the range of inspection operations that can robustly be carried out. Another goal is to make the platform as usable as possible for a non-expert. All this has been accomplished by means of the definition of different autonomous functions, including obstacle detection and collision prevention, and extensive use of behavior-based high-level control. The results of some experiments conducted to assess both the performance and usability of the platform are discussed at the end of the paper.

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