The Aibot X6, developed by Aibotix in Kassel, Germany, and designed to carry out inspections or operations too dangerous for humans to carry out, can reach places that conventional devices cannot. This hexacopter was developed to meet the highest standards for industrial inspections and measurements and it has many applications, ranging from power lines, wind turbines and photovoltaic plants to bridges and pipeline inspections.
The Aibot can record possible damage precisely and it will save pictures, positions and other flight data including georeferential data. The material received can then be accurately analysed.
The Aibot X6 was recently able to utilise its unique features when it inspected the famous Köhlbrand Bridge in Hamburg, Germany. This bridge, with a span of approximately 3,600 metres, is the second-longest bridge in Germany and is used by 30,000 vehicles every day. To ensure driver safety, the bridge is subject to a complex examination procedure in compliance with DIN norm 1076. The main inspection takes about three to five months and is carried out every six years. During this inspection, building engineers inspect every concrete and steel surface visually. In addition, a simple inspection is carried out every three years and a visual inspection once a year. For the main inspection, scaffolding and cherry pickers are normally needed to conduct a thorough examination.
The Aibot X6, however, simply circled around the bridge, delivering high-resolution video and images. It did not just inspect the outside of the 50-metre high pillars of the bridge, but also the inside. It did this with the aid of a LED floodlight which enabled the inspectors to examine other areas as well. Previously, the internal space was illuminated by construction lights which threw out a limited amount of light. Even the ceiling of the pylon was inspected by the “Ontop-camera”, a specially developed solution, mounted on top of the hexacopter.
While the hexacopter is at work, live video can be transmitted to the ground station or to video eyewear enabling the hexacopter to be brought into position quickly and easily, so that it can display the relevant parts instantly. The ultra-light carbon frame shields the propellers from collisions, which was of significant importance when inspecting the inside of the pillars. The R&D department of Aibotix is currently working on a Collision Avoidance function to enable the hexacopter to hold a predefined safe distance automatically. Should one or even two of the six rotors fail in flight, the Aibot will be able to continue flying.