Low-Cost Intelligent UAV Swarming Technology for Visual Inspection of Oil and Gas Vessels

  • Yang, Erfu (Principal Investigator)
  • Yan, Xiu (Co-investigator)
  • Gu, Dongbing (Co-investigator)
  • Wong, Cuebong (Researcher)
  • Yu, Leijian (Researcher)
  • Yang, Beiya (Researcher)
  • Fei, Zixiang (Researcher)
  • Niu, Cong (Researcher)

Project: Research

Project Details


Within the oil and gas industry, robotic systems have been seen more commonly both in onshore and offshore applications for numerous reasons. Among them, health, safety and environmental concerns are the key drivers for deployment of robotics and autonomous systems technology. The inspection of key assets in the oil and gas industry is critical both for safety and business reasons. In addition to this, recent developments in autonomous robots have enabled machines with greater levels of flexibility and adaptability, allowing them to perform various tasks more efficiently than the human counterpart. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in particular have emerged as highly agile systems that can be deployed in swarms to perform lightweight tasks quickly and efficiently.

Layman's description

With rising safety, time and cost concerns relating to the inspection of process pressure vessels, the use of small, lightweight robots that can be deployed quickly to assess the internal and external conditions are highly desirable. The ambition of this project is to develop an autonomous visual inspection system that provides an initial assessment of internal and external surface conditions through the use of a UAV swarm equipped with on-board cameras. The inspection strategy consists of an intelligent coverage path planner that determines an optimal path to fully inspect vessel surfaces. It is also proposed that each participating UAV will have obstacle avoidance capabilities to avoid collision with external obstructions and internal features such as weirs and vane packs etc.


Funder:The Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC),  in total  £298,340 where £199,985 funded by the NZTC, £98355 (in-kind) matched by the University of Strathclyde
Effective start/end date1/06/1931/12/21

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure


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