AirWorks: DJI Launches Inspection Drone Project with Shell Oil

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John McClain, Chief Drone Pilot, Shell Deer Park Refining (Source: DJI)

Drone giant DJI is partnering with energy multinational Shell Oil to deploy a drone project at Shell’s Deer Park Manufacturing Complex.

As a “Solution Development Partner,” Shell and DJI  will develop and test advanced drone solutions, like the DJI Matrice 300 RTK, at the 1,500-acre complex in Texas. According to a DJI statement, the program will “allow workers to automate required inspections of critical infrastructure like flare tips and floating roof tanks whose condition and activity are difficult to assess from ground level.”

“As one of the world’s largest energy companies, Shell has provided us with valuable insight into the unique challenges of conducting aerial inspections at one of its largest facilities where infrastructure exceeds the height of 250 feet off the ground,” said Cynthia Huang, Director of Business Development at DJI.

“Through our collaboration, DJI will receive valuable first-hand insight into the complexities of deploying drone technology at a world-class refinery, and co-develop new product features like AI Spot-Check that will allow Shell and other innovative energy companies to use drones to safely and easily conduct required inspections of critical infrastructure.”

“Shell Deer Park is excited to become a Solution Development Partner with DJI as we continue to adopt drone technology,” said Shell Deer Park’s Chief Drone Pilot, John McClain. “Through this partnership, Shell Deer Park will have access to some of the most advanced drone technology from DJI to help elevate workplace safety and improve efficiency across our operations in the world’s largest industry.”

AirWorks News

DJI unveiled the deal at its AirWorks 2020 Virtual Conference yesterday along with the launch of new LiDAR sensors, Livox and Avia.

During the virtual conference, DJI Senior Brand Manager Christopher Tuazon touted plans to bring a standardized, integrated drone data platform to market with GIS system ESRI.

“Through a direct integration between DJI hardware and ESRI’s Site Scan for ArcGIS, we will be advancing joint-developments of highly integrated solutions for the AEC, urban planning, public safety, and energy industries,” a company spokesperson added.

The Chinese company also announced the release of FlightHub, a new mission management platform:

“FlightHub software will evolve from a fleet and pilot management tool into a comprehensive mission management platform centered around flight operations. With the new system, drones will deliver live data on top of an enhanced reality model for better coordination between field operators and command centers.”

Navigating Media Allegations

The positive news comes at a time when DJI faces what company officials call inaccurate media coverage about job cuts and alleged app security weaknesses. The company responded earlier this week to a Reuters report claiming the world’s largest drone company is slashing its workforce.

“A story from the Reuters news agency has created some inaccurate impressions of how DJI has faced this year’s challenging business environment. It includes false claims about staffing changes and employee assignments in several departments. In truth, DJI has made some important structural changes and our business is thriving, as both personal and professional customers around the world are embracing drones in an era of social distancing.”

Following a New York Times article covering a French security’s claims that DJI’s Pilot App faced security issues, a company statement swatted back:

“Today’s report from the Synacktiv digital security firm about DJI software includes further inaccuracies and misleading statements about how our products work, following similar reports from them last week. We want to make clear that DJI’s products protect user data; that DJI, like most software companies, continually updates products as real and perceived vulnerabilities come to light; and that there is no evidence that any of the hypothetical vulnerabilities reported by Synacktiv have ever been exploited.”

DroneLife Editor Miriam McNabb’s previous coverage is included.

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Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.

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