In terms of oil and gas exploration projects, aerial drones are now well and truly in the limelight. This is because they offer a cheap way to obtain aerial images of potential drilling sites as compared to satellites, which are very expensive to deploy. Exploration companies have garnered an interest in the development and deployment
In terms of oil and gas exploration projects, aerial drones are now well and truly in the limelight. This is because they offer a cheap way to obtain aerial images of potential drilling sites as compared to satellites, which are very expensive to deploy. Exploration companies have garnered an interest in the development and deployment of commercial UAVs which could allow efficient, safe and accurate data analysis, site exploration, methane sniffing and real time 3D modelling of rocks, beds, cliff and shores. Once such company that has uses UAVs extensively in Africa for this purpose is Tullow Oil. Also, several companies such a Sky-Futures USA have already received exemptions from the FAA for using UAVs for oil and gas exploration.
Drones for both aerial and underwater make use of several different techniques in order to gather data about the potential presence of oil and gas in an area. In particular:
- 3D Modeling: Drones make use of image processing capabilities to transform images into real-time 3D models. This allows them to determine the kind of terrain and rocks present in the vicinity without having to physically explore the rough terrain. Skycatch is one such company that already offers 3D modeling of all sorts of potential sites using its own UAVs.
- Real Time Detection: If a high definition camera is mounted with a mini-computer powerful enough to handle terrain and geographical simulations for determining the presence of oil and gas in real-time, companies can save a lot of time in finding potential drilling sites. Lynx laboratories recently unveiled the Lynx A 3D modeling camera, which does real-time detection, but is currently enormous in size as compared to current UAVs and is only suited for use with 3D modeling of objects. Lynx hopes to develop smaller cameras in the future and such a device will be quite useful if outfitted on a UAV.
- Internet Data Uploads: Companies such as BP already use drones such as the Aeryon Skyranger which is outfitted with a digital internet module for uploading gathered data on the cloud. This saves time as the company can immediately start processing the data required to map the environment instead of waiting for the drone to land to be able to retrieve the data.
As you can see, oil and gas companies are already making use of several UAV systems to improve their exploration efforts. However, until a system is produced which can perform 3D modeling in real-time and contains a next-gen autopilot, the usage of UAVs may be quite limited in this industry.
Are you working on any projects related to real-time 3D modeling or can think of other features which might be helpful for UAVs carrying out oil and gas exploration? We would love to hear from you to feature your ideas on the site and share your ideas with our audience!
Image via Flickr: Loco Steve