World’s first Sea-to-Air integrated drone redefines offshore operations

The Sea-Air Integrated Drone lands onto the waters before the FIFISH ROV is deployed.
The Sea-Air Integrated Drone lands onto the waters before the FIFISH ROV is deployed. Credit: QYSEA

Japanese telecommunications operator KDDI, commercial drone manufacturer PRODRONE, and underwater robotics firm QYSEA unveiled the world’s first ‘Sea-Air Integrated Drone’ during a flight showcase at the Hakkeijima Sea Paradise in Yokohama. The revolutionary drone aims to modernize offshore and marine operations with its intelligent capabilities, high working efficiency, and minimized manpower required.

The technological achievement between KDDI and QYSEA has resulted in the first commercial drone capable of operating seamlessly through land, sea, and air. The world’s first sea-to-air drone features the combination of a heavy-duty aerial drone and QYSEA’s industrial-class Fifish Pro V6 Plus ROV (remotely operated vehicle). It is carried in a quick-release cage on the underside of the copter.

Main elements & compartments of the Sea-Air Integrated Drone.
Main elements & compartments of the Sea-Air Integrated Drone. Credit: QYSEA

Through long-range mobile communications, the drone is operated remotely to fly to its preset route at sea. After landing at its designated location, the FIFISH ROV is released and deployed to work. The pilot is then able to remotely operate with the ROV from a safe working location and perform a variety of inspection, maintenance, and repair work underwater.

Without the need to leave their onshore working location, the operator can deliver inspections with real-time visual feedback and operate through underwater environments with a variety of sampling, measurement, and manipulation tools and be able to live-stream operations for multi-person collaborations.

Visual reference of operations by the Sea-Air Integrated Drone.
Visual reference of operations by the Sea-Air Integrated Drone. Credit: QYSEA

In offshore wind power, the drone can be deployed to perform complex inspections and maintenance work on its frames and foundations to greatly reduce human risks. In the world of aquaculture, the drone is able to fly out to monitor its livestock and crops, as well as perform maintenance and repair work through the ROV’s multitude of add-on tools. Other marine-based applications include operations involving search and recovery, hull inspections, and various other subsea infrastructures.

This ambitious project had been set out by KDDI six years earlier. With further details of its release coming in early 2022, the ‘Sea-Air Integrated Drone’ will undoubtedly lead an essential path towards the development of a sustainable ocean economy and the global goal of carbon neutrality.