How UAS Technology Is Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry


Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are aerial vehicles equipped with infrared cameras, GPS systems, and other state of the art technology that can be controlled remotely from the ground. In the oil and gas industry, these crafts aid emergency response, infrastructure inspection, security, and surveillance. Traditionally, humans are put in extreme conditions to collect critical data in the oil and gas industry. The CDC estimates that the annual occupational fatality rate in the oil and gas industry is about 25 per every 100,000 workers. Hostile environments and unfavorable weather make it expensive and dangerous to monitor oil and gas rigs at all times. Keeping employees on the ground without risk is the solution for an efficient and safe inspection. Using UAS technology to collect data and monitor rigs saves time, money, and limits potential accidents.

Infrastructure inspection is one of the most important, costly and timely tasks of an oil and gas plant. Much of the data collected by 3D UAS mapping can reveal information that is not easily visible to the human eye. The crafts also provide the ability to perform fast equipment inspection, regardless of weather. Inspection of equipment sometimes requires shutting down operations to fully analyze each component. With the help of UASs, inspection can be done in a shorter amount of time so rigs can run longer, generating more revenue in the long run.

UASs can collect real-time data revealing leaks, spills and other malfunctions to help monitor and stop them before they become an environmental and financial disaster. The FlightWave Edge has the ability to fly for up to 120 minutes. In those two hours, it can capture thermal imaging, zoom up to 20x a normal camera and fly at an altitude of 1000m. Its thermal imaging sensors can check an oil rig’s flare stacks to make sure there is no built-up gas that could potentially lead to an explosion. High definition cameras can examine small spaces between nuts and bolts to make sure nothing is loose, as well as check for rust to make sure the exterior coating is safe. With these capabilities, a UAS can help identify a problem before it becomes a disaster. FlightWave’s UASs help the oil and gas industry reduce costs and employee risk while improving safety and operational efficiency.