The rapid advancement of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drone technology is a game-changer for pipeline security. Now, it is possible to integrate Fotech’s pipeline monitoring with DAS acoustic sensing into your UAV response systems. The UAV receives an alert as to the location of the pipeline threat and flies along the pipeline to specific coordinates provided by our DAS technology.
With the right strategy in place, the UAV will be able to reach any location along the pipeline in the required target response time, providing clear footage from visual and thermal cameras, confirming the threat, and generating valuable intelligence for remedial action.
When a pipeline threat emerges due to criminal intent, such as hot tapping, a rapid and precise response is required to prevent the crime before damage causes spillage and costly clean-up.
Distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) technology uses fibre optic cable monitoring that is often already in place alongside most pipelines for communications purposes. DAS monitoring effectively converts the fibre into thousands of sensors that detect sound and vibrations from human or vehicular movement, including digging, tunnelling and other activities that risk pipeline integrity.
The technology has been deployed – and proven – on thousands of kilometres of pipelines all over the world.
Distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) technology via Fotech LivePIPE® can detect a threat and raise an alarm within seconds. But it still takes time for a security team to drive to site and intervene, especially where distances are long, or terrain is challenging. By contrast, a UAV flying at 72 kph could cover 50km of pipeline in just 45 minutes.
Not only can the UAV provide visual and thermal intelligence, it can also deter criminals with strong LED lights and audio, even at night. Just the knowledge that they have been detected is likely to deter most hot tappers, preventing expensive losses or tap attempts that could cause environmentally harmful spills.
The UAV also protects law enforcement or security officers by giving them situational awareness, allowing them to assess the pipeline theft gang’s threat level, so that they can take steps to protect their personal safety before attending site in person.
What’s more, this SCADA integration ability can be extended to a wide range of other payloads and sensors, including OGI (Optical Gas Inspection) cameras, thermal and infrared sensors, magnetometers, and radars. Thanks to these advances, a UAV can now fly on autopilot to the site of the pipeline security threat, while being monitored by an operator in a control room on the other side of the world.