VDOS Global LLC, a provider of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) inspection services and data collection, says it is the first company to receive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to perform commercial inspection services using UAVs.
The waiver issued by the FAA allows the Corvallis, Ore.-based company use UAV technology to perform offshore inspections for structures owned and operated by Shell throughout the Gulf of Mexico.
The UAVs use high-definition and thermal imaging to detect faults, corrosion and other signs of deterioration. Further, according to VDOS, the aircraft pose no additional risk to humans and do not interrupt operations. They also allow operators to interpret results immediately.
VDOS is one of the four companies recently named in the FAA’s announcement of granting five more regulatory exemptions for commercial UAV operations.
‘We are proud to be the first company approved by the FAA to help the oil and gas industry improve safety and protect the environment through the use of UAV technology,” says Brian Whiteside, founder and CEO of VDOS. “Our experience as military and commercial pilots combined with our commitment to safety make us the right team to take this important first step for the industry.”
Collaborative efforts between VDOS and Shell will advance the use of robotics for safety to further the goal of reducing potential hazards to personnel, says VDOS.
With more than 3,500 potential inspection sites in the Gulf of Mexico alone, VDOS anticipates significant demand to perform inspections that are time- and cost-intensive for oil and gas producers.
The company, a member of the Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range, manages the Warm Springs UAS test site in Oregon.