This post originally appeared on https://www.australianmining.com.au/news/drones-take-flight-benefit-resources-industry/.
[Editor’s Note: Shell will be using the drones to monitor natural gas wells and infrastructure that previously required on the ground inspection.]
Shell has welcomed the announcement of the Queensland Government’s $1 million support of a research project involving the use of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), or drones.
The Advance Queensland project is a collaboration between Shell’s QGC project and Boeing, and has developed the world’s first commercial use of beyond-line-of-sight RPAS.
The system will monitor natural gas wells and their associated infrastructure that previously involved inspection on the ground by four-wheel drive.
Tony Nunan, Shell’s vice president QGC, said the company is proud to introduce the emerging technology into both the resources and agriculture industries.
“Landowners will benefit, over time, from fewer visits to their properties while QGC and the community will benefit from fewer vehicles on the roads,” he said.
“Our remotely piloted aircraft is operated by a world leader in this field in strict compliance with air safety regulations and following 18 months of successful trials.”
The project will further support the safe usage of drones by ensuring awareness of all other aircraft in its vicinity during flight. It will also involve development of technology to enable a wider range of uses of data gathered, with further adoption into other industries such as agriculture.
The aircraft is operated by Insitu Pacific, a subsidiary of Boeing, which operates under strict privacy controls and policies. The drones have a 3m wingspan and fly between 450 – 600m, in compliance with air safety regulations of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
QGC will not receive images of people’s homes.
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has also welcomed the use of the drones due to their ability to improve safety and reduce the number of on-ground inspections.
QRC chief executive Michael Roche said, “We have been hearing rhetoric from state and federal governments that to ‘advance’ the economy we ought to look beyond our deeply engrained resources sector.”
“The fact is, however, the resources sector is one where innovation has long been the norm.
“I am pleased to see support from the state government on these cutting-edge practices as well as process and supply chain innovations stemming from the resources sector.”