Conference paper Open Access
The periodic inspection of vessels is a fundamental task to ensure their integrity and avoid maritime accidents. Currently, these inspections represent a high cost for the ship owner, in addition to the danger that this kind of hostile environment entails for the surveyors. In these situations, robotic platforms turn out to be useful not only for safety reasons, but also to reduce vessel downtimes and simplify the inspection procedures. Under this context, in this paper we report on the evaluation of a new control architecture devised to drive an aerial platform during these inspection procedures. The control architecture, based on an extensive use of behaviour-based high-level control, implements visual inspection-oriented functionalities, while releases the operator from the complexities of inspection flights and ensures the integrity of the platform. Apart from the control software, the full system comprises a multi-rotor platform equipped with a suitable set of sensors to permit teleporting the surveyor to the areas that need inspection. The paper provides an extensive set of testing results in different scenarios, under different operational conditions and over real vessels, in order to demonstrate the suitability of the platform for this kind of tasks.