ELIOS drone for confined space and hard-to-reach areas

ELIOS makes it possible for the first time to be able to fly through complex confined space. This allows the potential of flying robots to be used in numerous areas of application in which their use was previously too dangerous or simply impossible.

" Inspecting inaccessible and confined spaces with the ELIOS drone makes maintenance safer, easier, better and more cost-effective. "
Christian Engelke

Inspection of confined and inaccessible spaces

Flyability ELIOS

With the Flyability ELIOS drone, narrow and inaccessible places can be inspected safely and quickly. The ELIOS has a diameter of 400mm and fits through small manholes. Unique only for the ELIOS: The entire flying robot is gimbal-mounted in a protective cage (consisting of carbon fibre rods) which serves as protection on the one hand and on the other hand due to its shape is also able to roll or dock along plant components and structures. In order to make the most of the range of applications, it is also possible to secure the ELIOS with a tethering cord in order to fly into narrow tubes from which the flying robot could otherwise not be salvaged. The ELIOS is equipped with a high-resolution FullHD camera and a thermal camera. Both cameras are transmitted in real time by radio to the ground station.

Live transmission / moderation of the inspection

Industrial inspections with the Flyability ELIOS drone can be moderated directly by your maintenance specialists. Thanks to the live transmission and the possibility to set POIs (Points of Interest), all neuralgic spots relevant for maintenance can be accessed, inspected and documented. In addition to the live transmission of the image material, all recordings and flight data are stored in the ELIOS on two memory cards.

UAV inspection in pitch darkness

The Flyability ELIOS has an extremely powerful LED OnBoard lighting with a nominal power of approx. 11.4 Watt, which can be controlled via the ground station. In addition to the automatic exposure control of the camera, there is also a manual exposure control which always ensures optimal image reproduction under difficult conditions (reflective surface, etc.). For very complex environments there is also a high-iso mode and in addition there is the possibility to navigate in special situations using the thermal camera (FLIR 160x120 pixels).

Continuous UAV Inspection

The ELIOS drone can remain in the air for up to 10 minutes at a time. A battery change is done in less than a minute. So work can be done continuously.

Footage from the Flyability ELIOS

What is the Flyability ELIOS drone suitable for?

Inspection of the structural integrity of technical installations

The footage created with the ELIOS drone allows conclusions to be drawn about the structural integrity of technical installations such as tanks. In contrast to images taken from a scaffold, the ELIOS can quickly, reliably and inexpensively take detailed pictures from which the overall condition of the installation can be derived. The Flyability ELIOS is ideally equipped for inspection in industrial plants, power plants and on vessels.

Inspection of welds and joints

Thanks to its rugged cage, ELIOS can easily roll up walls or other structures such as tank walls. Tank inspection of large gas tanks made of steel, such as those found in vessels, is just as possible as the inspection of chemical tanks made of fiberglass. The images taken show the precise condition of welds and joints.

Inspection of screws, bolts and nozzles

Whether for the inspection of roof structures, tanks or hard-to-reach areas in industry and power plants. The ELIOS drone can be used to inspect and document the condition of bolted connections as well as the condition of inlets and outlets, brackets and much more. With the ELIOS we fly so close to the critical spots that even the inscriptions on the screws are usually clearly visible.

Detection of corrosion and corrosion protection

Sooner or later, when oxygen and metals get together, corrosion occurs. Certain chemical compounds further accelerate this process. With the ELIOS drone, safe and short-term inspections are possible in the environment of industry, power generation and buildings. The condition of corrosion, passive and active corrosion protection can be determined easily and quickly.

Reading type plates and recording measurements

In power stations and sewage treatment plants - or wherever large, heavy and long pipes are used - there are always steel or rubber compensators, constant hangers, spring hangers or spring supports to compensate movements or reduce vibrations. Depending on the design of the plant, the pipes run to places that are difficult to access after the construction phase. With the ELIOS drone, these places can be easily approached and the condition of the systems inspected and documented.

Flyability ELIOS FAQ

We as Kopterflug have already conducted numerous inspections with the ELIOS drone in various environments and can give you direct feedback on your concerns and questions. In addition to the ELIOS drone, we also carry out industrial inspections with additional equipment and, if desired, develop the appropriate solution for your maintenance planning together with you. Just contact us!

The ELIOS is not a drone you can unpack and fly without training. While most drones can fly in GPS mode and keep their position relatively precise, the ELIOS drone is quite different. The ELIOS is an indoor drone and indoors (especially in tanks) there is of course no GPS signal. The ELIOS only has a barometer with which it can hold the altitude. The whole thing is comparable to a DJI drone with ATTI mode. While “normal” drones in ATTI mode are relatively inherently stable, the ELIOS drone is relatively unstable due to its cage (and cardanic suspension) and begins to drift very quickly. So if you have flown drones in GPS mode so far, you will have to change over when using the ELIOS drone. A good preparation is the training with small racing drones. Another very important aspect is the proximity to objects: With ELIOS you fly so close to objects that the downwind of the propeller creates vortices which make it extremely difficult to control the ELIOS in certain situations in confined spaces. Flying the ELIOS drone is a challenge. We consider the ELIOS drone more like a flying robot than a typical drone. The cage serves not only to protect the drone but also to help it roll along welds or objects in general. Since the ELIOS is equipped with an extremely powerful OnBoard lighting which is located inside the cage, the intensity of the lighting or the aperture control must be constantly adjusted while the drone is being controlled, otherwise the images are overexposed or underexposed. There is also an “automatic mode” for the exposure control of the camera – but there are many environments in which the automatic is not sufficient. Because flying the ELIOS requires some practice and experience, the manufacturer, Flyability, also offers a multi-level training program ( theoretical lessons online and practical on-site training) in Switzerland.

The ELIOS drone is extremely difficult to control, even in light winds, because the protective cage offers the wind an extremely large area and acts like a sail.

Yes, thanks to the integrated OnBoard lighting, all objects to be inspected are more than adequately illuminated. There is even a tendency to overexposure in complete darkness.

Spare parts such as cage elements, propellers, ground stations, chargers and rechargeable batteries are available directly from Flyability in Switzerland. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

No. The ELIOS must not be operated in ATEX environments. According to our knowledge (as of March 2019) there is currently no drone that has flown in ATEX environments – or whose operation is permitted in ATEX environments.

The ELIOS has a FullHD camera and records in 1080P. Since the objects can be directly approached down to a few centimeters, this is more than sufficient. We have made the experience that many of our industrial customers are often even unable to play back 4K Video.

The Flyability ELIOS drone transmits video data, telemetry data and control signals via 2.4 GHz technology. The process is essentially based on the DJI Lightbridge technology. High frequency spreads out like an optical signal. In steel tanks the ELIOS can be controlled through manholes over relatively long distances, whereas in concrete pipes connection problems occur already after the first turn.

For indoor missions, we can also operate the ELIOS beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS), for example in tanks or shafts, if access is too dangerous for people. In outdoor applications, operation is only possible and permitted within line of sight.

The Flyability Inspector software is currently (March 2019) only available for Windows. We have managed a successful operation with Virtual Box and Windows 7 on MacOS. Parallels, on the other hand, didn’t work. But you should really go for a Windows Computer!

In the past, the technical data of computers and their components were constantly compared – as was the number of megapixels in digital cameras. It makes more sense to wonder what flight time is needed to complete a certain task. Of course it would sometimes be desirable if the ELIOS would fly 2-3 minutes longer – but in other scenarios a flight time of 6 minutes would be sufficient. Probably it would be possible to build a slightly larger ELIOS drone with a longer flight time, but what is the point if the ELIOS can no longer fly to all the narrow spots? So the flying time can be used optimally: During missions with the ELIOS drone, a risk assessment and a description of procedures are prepared before the flight and “actually” you don’t just fly off. The customer is also not interested in looking at any confusing pictures that do not have a chronological structure. Practice makes perfect: If a mission lasts 10 minutes for the first time, the same mission can be completed in less than 5 minutes with a little practice. We recently inspected LNG gas tanks in a cruise ship. The first 3 of the 27 segments took about 15 minutes each. 15 minutes flight time means a battery change, an additional video file and last but not least 15 minutes video footage. After we were able to familiarize ourselves with the special features of the tanks during the first flights ( airflow in the tank and specific camera settings) we were able to almost halve the operating time per segment and managed with one battery. During the first flights our ELIOS was still stuck at certain places in the tank, we corrected the exposure of the pictures at wrong times and too often and the departure speed was too slow. After some practice we were able to do the job reasonably and sensibly.

Whether it is worth buying or renting an ELIOS drone (with pilot) we can clarify together with you. The use of your own drone requires much more than “just” the drone. We have a lot of practical experience with the use of drones in industry and know what you need (starting with insurance). We are happy to answer your questions in advance. We only rent ELIOS drones with pilots, because the deployment of ELIOS requires comprehensive training. In addition, we also support you in the acquisition of your own ELIOS drone.

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