Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

SkyX develops remote charging station for oil and gas inspection drones

Steve Rogerson
June 8, 2017



SkyX, a Canadian-based provider of drone technology for the oil and gas industry, has launched its first xStation, a unit that remotely recharges SkyX drones during missions.
 
The xStation is a rugged, all-metal piece of engineering designed to allow the SkyOne drone to recharge remotely while monitoring long-range infrastructure, then continue its mission. Developed to inspect pipelines for damage, as well as for mapping and security surveillance, the drones can handle vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) as well as autonomous flight and recharging.
 
SkyOne can travel at 150km per hour for 70 min and can detect leaks, vandalism and vegetation encroachment.
 
By installing multiple xStations along a route, SkyOne can monitor assets such as oil and gas pipelines or railroad tracks that stretch hundreds – even thousands – of kilometres.
 
“I’m thrilled to see this successful milestone in the SkyX journey,” said company CEO and founder Didi Horn. “I’m particularly proud because this unit was invented by our team. From conception to testing to patenting – this is a proprietary SkyX product. It is extremely exciting to see our product coming together as a full service to enhance the efficiency and safety of the oil and gas industry.”
 
The xStation is said to be one of the key differentiators that sets SkyX apart from other competitors in the unmanned world. In combination with the SkyOne VTOL aircraft – which transitions to forward flight to take advantage of the efficiency of its lifting wing – the xStation means SkyX can provide an unmatched method for long-range infrastructure monitoring and data acquisition. The Sky OS software ties everything together.
 
When algorithms tell SkyOne it is getting close to recharge time, the aircraft autonomously seeks out the next xStation instead of having to return to home base. The clamshell-like station roof opens automatically; SkyOne then transitions to vertical mode and descends like a helicopter onto the xStation landing pad. The roof closes, providing safe harbour while SkyOne recharges and performs a complete systems check before continuing on its mission.
 
The proprietary engineering behind the xStation was developed in-house. SkyX proved the concept with a scaled-down xStation in August 2016, and has since pushed ahead to ensure the production version is as efficient and robust as possible, built for demanding conditions in a wide range of climates. For the production models, SkyX has partnered with Canadian automated product firm CMP.
 
The first xStations are slated to be installed for clients in July 2017.