Concept: Japanese telecommunications company KDDI with its domestic commercial drone manufacturer PRODRONE, and Chinese underwater robotics startup QYSEA has collaborated to launch the world’s first ‘Sea-Air Integrated Drone’. This commercial drone can operate seamlessly through land, sea, and air. It aims to revolutionize offshore and maritime operations by providing high operating efficiency, minimal manpower requirements, and intelligent capabilities.

Nature of Disruption: Sea-Air Integrated Drone combines heavy-duty aerial drone and QYSEA’s industrial-class FIFISH PRO V6 PLUS ROV. A compact ROV with a dive depth of 150 meters, it can fully optimize small-scale underwater operations. It also flies to its predetermined course at sea using long-range mobile communications. The underwater drone is launched and sent to work after landing at its preset position. The pilot can control the ROV remotely from a secure operating position and execute a variety of underwater inspection, maintenance, and repair tasks. It allows operators to conduct inspections with real-time visual feedback. The drone uses various sampling, measurement, and manipulation tools to operate across underwater environments, as well as offer live-stream operations for multi-person collaborations.

Outlook: Sea-Air Integrated Drone claims to offer a substantial improvement over typical underwater inspection procedures, which require workers driving out to offshore installations in boats and performing repeated dives to complete their objective. To significantly reduce human risks in offshore wind generation, the drone can be used to undertake difficult inspections and maintenance work on the frames and foundations. In the aquaculture industry, the drone can fly out to monitor livestock and crops, as well as perform maintenance and repair work using the ROV’s numerous add-on gadgets. Hull inspection, search and recovery operations, and other subsea infrastructures are among the other marine-based applications of the drone.

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