Technology Merit: Monitoring


AECOM (Los Angeles, Calif.) for leading the first-known exterior and interior inspection of a 250-foot industrial stack using an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The inspection, conducted through AECOM’s subsidiary UCOR, culminated two years of research, test, and coordination across multiple agencies. Traditional inspections involve shutting off stack operation for 2-3 weeks, erecting scaffolding, and positioning a crane to lower a HAZMAT-trained inspector into the stack. A team of AECOM UAS experts, UCOR facility experts, and AECOM’s partner, Guided Systems Technologies (GST), employed a specialized UAS equipped with a high definition camera to image the exterior of the stack and a specialized, lighted camera connected to an automated winch lowered into the stack for internal imaging. Images were transmitted directly to a monitor for inspectors to see and record imaging real-time. This innovative solution safely accomplished both exterior and interior imaging in less than two hours, allowing stack use to resume in less than half a day from shutdown to restart.