Novel Sensor Payloads for Asset Inspection Drones

The Innovation Exchange programme is working alongside Futureworx to find emerging technology solutions to engineering challenges. Futureworx wishes to engage with innovators to find novel sensors and/or data processing techniques that can be deployed in scenarios offering relatively low Size-Weight-Power-Cooling (SWAPC) budgets. These will initially be aimed at demanding industrial environments, such as the ongoing survey and maintenance of offshore infrastructure.


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Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to pitch their innovation to Marshall Futureworx (Futureworx). Selected solution(s) may be trialled at Futureworx facilities and/or partner demonstration sites, with the possibility of further collaboration, if trials are successful.


Marshall is an independent, family-owned British company with a diverse portfolio of businesses and a shared commitment to keeping its customers moving forward. Futureworx is the venture building arm of Marshall. It is a team of creative engineering talent, focussed on technology and enterprise solutions aligned with emerging global trends. Its goal is to leverage and enhance the strengths of the Marshall group of companies and expand into new partnerships, markets and sectors with products and services solving practical problems.

Futureworx is currently researching technologies for faster and more efficient inspection of industrial assets, including those deployed in onshore and offshore environments (e.g. oil and gas, renewable energy). The latter environment in particular is considered harsher and more demanding, and therefore a good starting point for specifically identifying robust inspection tools.

Offshore assets operate in a harsh environment for long periods of time. The offshore industries is constantly working towards increasing safety and reducing costs through reducing the need for human intervention during operation. As a result, assets (e.g. an offshore wind turbine) are heavily instrumented. Using this data, operators plan operation and maintenance (O&M) more effectively, optimising campaigns offshore.

Despite advances in sensor technologies, various aspects of a site inspection campaign are still a manual process on many sites. For example, manual inspections could include:

  • Visual checks for damage, dirt and protection erosion
  • Splash zone inspection for marine growth or damage
  • Ultrasonic testing of metal components
  • Security or perimeter checks
  • Bird monitoring from a vessel during development

During the development and construction phase of an offshore asset, critical data is also collected to support ongoing site works e.g. bathymetry, data on local flora and fauna. It is often limited by the fact that there is no infrastructure yet deployed offshore and is heavily dependent on vessel-based surveys.

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