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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 09:49 AM CDT

Simplifying Airborne Inspection

Advanced IR and cameras jointly mounted on four-axis gyro-stabilized gimbal for aircraft operation
Xenics
Xenics’s Pumair, features a combination of an LWIR camera and a visible-spectrum camera. Both are encased in a four-axis, gyro-stabilized gimbal that can be nose- or side-mounted on a helicopter or a small, slow-flying sports plane.
The system is designed to detect any thermal anomalies that deserve attention from the appropriate authorities.
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By Piet van Riel
Xenics

An interesting application in many countries is aerial inspection of high-voltage power transmission lines—carried out by flying along the lines to be investigated at a distance of about 50 meters and measuring the temperature of any hot spots that may be developing in the connectors.

Other fields of use for a robust high-performance dual-sensor system, delivering thermal and visual images under widely varying light and weather conditions, are environmental surveys, such as investigating oil spills emanating from pipelines, hidden cases of water pollution, discovering hot water patches and steam evaporations from industrial facilities, fires developing in critical structures or landfills. In general, any field with thermal anomalies that deserve attention from the appropriate authorities.

Xenics (Leuven, Belgium) has developed a new system for aerial surveillance and inspection—Pumair, which is based on a modular, customizable combination of a long-wave thermal infrared (LWIR) camera with an optional thermography capability, plus a visible-spectrum camera.

Both cameras are encased in a four-axis, gyro-stabilized gimbal that can be nose- or side-mounted on a helicopter or a small, slow-flying sports plane, depending on the given payload condition.

Affordability, robust design, ease of operation and local maintainability—and not high sophistication—are the keys, explains Xenics founder and CEO Bob Grietens. These considerations, as a whole, Grietens says, bring down the cost of the Pumair gimbal to a fraction of what a user would have to invest in a MIL-Spec (military specification) gimbal configuration providing comparable results.

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