Novel sea-to-air drone will ‘redefine’ marine operations, says Japanese/Chinese venture

Jan. 27, 2022
Integrated technology combines drone, ROV capabilities with mobile communication networks.

Offshore staff

YOKOHAMA, Japan – Recently, Japanese telecommunications operator KDDI, Japanese commercial drone manufacturer PRODRONE, and Chinese underwater robotics firm QYSEA Technology unveiled what is claimed to be the world’s first ‘Sea-Air Integrated Drone’ during a flight showcase at the Hakkeijima Sea Paradise in Yokohama.

The companies say that the drone aims to modernize offshore and marine operations with its intelligent capabilities, high working efficiency, and minimized manpower requirements. The sea-to-air drone is jointly manufactured by telecommunications operator KDDI and underwater robotics manufacturer QYSEA Technology. The technology combines a heavy-duty aerial drone and QYSEA’s industrial-class FIFISH PRO V6 PLUS ROV.

KDDI launched the project to create the new drone six years ago, with the goal of combining advanced mobile communication networks with drone technologies as a means of delivering extended flying distances and lengths.

Through long-range mobile communications, the drone is can be operated remotely to fly to its preset sea route. After landing at its designated location, the FIFISH ROV is released and deployed to work. The pilot is then able to remotely operate with the ROV from a safe working location, and perform a variety of inspection, maintenance, and repair tasks underwater.

The companies say that the drone is expected to have far-reaching applications across the various marine-based industries. In offshore wind power, the drone can be deployed to perform complex inspections and maintenance work on its frames and foundations to greatly reduce human risks. In the world of aquaculture, the drone can fly out to monitor its livestock and crops, as well as perform maintenance and repair work through the ROV’s multitude of add-on tools. Other marine-based applications include operations involving search and recovery, hull inspections, and various other subsea infrastructures.

Further details regarding the drone’s commercial release are expected in early 2022, the companies said.


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