Edin Omerdic,
University of Limerick, Ireland (RAPID Partner)

The EU-funded RAPID project will combine and extend drone technology to deliver a fully automated and safety-assured maintenance inspection service for bridges, ship hull surveys, and more. Specifically, the service will combine self-sailing unmanned surface vehicles with autonomous unmanned aerial systems. The aim is to reduce the time and cost of structural condition monitoring of maritime transport infrastructures such as material-handling equipment, cargo and passenger ships, and bridges. RAPID’s new system will also facilitate the prioritisation of safer transport infrastructure.

RAPID will save lives by delivering an early warning system that will detect critical deterioration in transport system infrastructure, while also minimising system disruption and delays to critical supply chains. It will achieve this goal by combining and extending state-of-the-art drone technology to deliver a fully automated and safety assured maintenance-inspection (MI) service for bridge inspection, ship hull surveys and more. By combining self-sailing unmanned surface vehicles (USV) with swarms of autonomous unmanned aerial systems (UAS), RAPID will dramatically cut the time and cost of structural condition monitoring. RAPID-enabled MI services will increase efficiency and competitiveness for maritime transport stakeholders – such as ports, shipping companies, and landside transport authorities – and will deliver the safe and seamless operation of supply chain and mobility infrastructures – such as material handling equipment, cargo and passenger ships, and bridges. It encourages prioritisation of safer transport infrastructure where the technology seeks to improve environmental impact. The attractive return on investment will enable RAPID to gain market traction and incentivise commercial proliferation, bringing RAPID into widespread use for the overall benefit of society. By 2028, a newly formed company will generate €124 million and save in the order of 100 lives per year (reaching c. 20% share of the serviceable addressable maritime transport market through strategic partnership with 50 ports). RAPID brings together interdisciplinary partners with the expertise and capacity required to develop and validate this unique service model. The project will develop the consolidated maritime and aviation regulation standard for safe USV / UAS operations and the business model to scale the pilot service. RAPID will validate the high level of digitalisation, automation, and regulation required to support safe, beneficial, and scalable access to U-Space.

The RAPID project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement N°861211.