UK-based Lloyd’s Register has launched the first phase of its guidance notes for drones and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for operators using them for offshore surveys and in-service inspections.

Lloyd’s Register chief technology officer Nial McCollam said: "We are developing these guidance notes to provide a consistent approach to risk in UAS and drone deployment, offering practical operational considerations relating to regulations, personnel, quality, safety, hardware, software and operations.

"Technology and innovation in the area of digital data, sensing technologies, unmanned systems and robotics are here to stay."

"The use of robotic technology for inspection purposes reduces the need for personnel working in enclosed spaces and at heights."

Drones offer an alternative to traditional methods for in-service operational assessment and surveys.

Companies such as Shell and Maersk Drilling are already using this technology.

Shell Shipping and Maritime, Technology general manager Adri Postema said: "The use of robotic technology for inspection purposes reduces the need for personnel working in enclosed spaces and at heights.

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"Minimising risk across the industry by utilising cutting-edge technology in this way is of great importance to Shell."

Maersk Drilling and partners have collaborated with Lloyd’s Register to conduct various pilots to assess UAS capabilities for inspection at heights and difficult areas.

The guidance notes will be updated on a regular basis in a bid to provide the latest practical information to the industry on issues such as the method of using the drones for inspection in confined spaces.