Drone Company, FLIR, Creates System For Detecting Gas Leaks

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a sixth sense is “an ability that some people believe they have that seems to give them information without using the five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, or taste.” FLIR Systems proudly calls themselves “The World’s Sixth Sense” as they create products that give people the ability to sense the world about them like never before. The technologies they produce can be implemented in situations to increase perception and awareness. FLIR, an acronym for Forward-Looking Infrared, was established in 1978 to create thermal imaging systems for aerial vehicles. With their headquarters in Wilsonville, Oregon, FLIR now provides a wide range of tools to give whom they call heroes a sixth sense.

These heroes are military personnel, police, firefighters, first responders, and any enterprise that works to protect the global community. This includes hazmat teams that need to detect hazardous materials like gasses in an environment. Gasses like methane are odorless and colorless. When a methane gas leak occurs, it displaces oxygen and can cause asphyxiation with little to no warning. Methane is also highly flammable, the smallest spark can cause massive explosions. The market for natural gas detection is huge, but most systems involve stationary units. Meanwhile, in the event of a suspected gas leak, a hazmat responder will manually search for the origin of the leak.

FLIR has designed a new system that fully integrates a gas detection system with a drone for optimal results and safety. The new system is called the FLIR MUVE C360, and it replaces the need for an emergency responder to don a heavy, burdensome hazmat suit and slowly, methodically walk through an environment. Manually searching for a gas leak is time consuming and extremely dangerous. Every second counts, but the hazmat worker still has to proceed cautiously. If drones have taught us anything, it is that they can do jobs that pose risks to humans safely, rapidly, effectively, and cost efficiently. The MUVE C360 can do just that.

As described on FLIR, the MUVE C360 can continuously detect a wide range of gasses in the air while moving. An operator remains at a safe distance while remotely piloting the drone. The drone can cover a vast space in a matter of minutes while sensing toxins in the air. The data is instantly transmitted wirelessly to the pilot through FLIR’s VueLink app. “The sensor block,” as described by FLIR, “boasts 8-channels, which includes a photoionization detector (PID), Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) detector, and six other sensors.” The sensor instantly snaps onto a specialized clip on the drone’s fuselage. What makes this particular gas detecting drone unique is the snorkel on the sensor block.

Other drones have been designed to detect gasses and other substances, like pollutants, in the air. These drones have gone a long way to speed up the detection process and allow personnel to access areas that they were previously limited to while also keeping people safe. However, the readings they sense is not always accurate because the drone’s rotors cause the air being tested to be disrupted. As the drone flies and the rotors spin, the air around the sensors is displaced. The MUVE C360 gets around this by having the snorkel that sucks in the air to be tested extend far beyond the reach of the drone’s rotors. This ensures that the MUVE C360 transmits accurate chemical readings.

The drone can do the dangerous work, finding the cause of a gas leak and measuring the volume of the potentially explosive substance in the air. While the drone scans for gasses with precision, emergency responders can work to safely evacuate the environment. Once the data is rapidly transferred, it can then be used to create a safe plan of action for containment. As FLIR states on their website, “The MUVE C360 is a time-saving, game-changer for emergency responders, industrial safety officers, and environmental monitoring experts.”  Drones with the ability to detect invisible harmful substances give emergency responders the sixth sense they need to protect and save lives.

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