CATEC pioneers aerial contact technology using drones

AMOct15News - catec
AMOct15News - catec

Seville’s Centre for Advanced Aerospace Technologies (CATEC), says it has developed a new worldwide pioneering technology that allows the use of airborne robots and small unmanned aircraft, popularly known as drones, for industrial contact inspection.

CATEC has designed a new drone that is capable of performing inspection that requires contact, for example, with ultrasonic sensors. Since 2011 CATEC has been a world leader in aerial robotics manipulation, having developed the first drone in the world with advanced aerial manipulation capabilities. But now it has focused on developing a new technology that is able to maintain contact in a safe and reliable way.

The drone performs very precise movements and includes a completely new contact device that enables it to decouple and dampen external perturbations that may occur during work done in the air - an aspect that is critical in order to maintain stability whilst the drone is performing contact operations. The initiative is part of the AEROARMS project, led by the University of Seville and funded by the European Commission programme Horizon 2020 for Research and Development.

Today drones are creating a major expectation with respect to their potential impact to people lives in the next 20 years. However, current drone technology only allows applying it in tasks that require ‘see’ from air, while there are major opportunities for drones if they could also ‘touch and feel’. This aerial contact technology developed by CATEC is a major step into this vision that already allows today performing industrial contact inspections using a drone not only minimising time and resources, but also decreasing human risks working at height.

AEROX has been selected as one of the 10 candidates for the Innovation Radar Prize 2017, and competes in the 'Industrial & Enabling Tech' category. This prize category aims to recognise new technologies and components, developed with EU-funding, that have industrial relevance and/or potential to enable the emergence of new applications.

CATEC's technology has focused on solving real industrial problems and has been advised by leading international industrial inspection companies to create a technology with a high maturity level that attracts industry interest.

“[This] represents a great step further for the use of this type of aerial robots in different tasks, as they not only could see from the air but also touch and feel,” explained CATEC’s head of avionics & systems division, Antidio Viguria. “The Innovation Radar Prize can be a great opportunity for us to increase our knowledge of this technology and to arouse the industry's interest in exploiting it.”


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