One of the problems with oil and gas pipelines is that they go very deep underwater and this can make them very difficult to discover faults on. Currently the way it’s done is by using PIGS which propel through the pipelines cleaning them out and, with sensors discovering leaks.
But now a new prototype waterproof quadcopter can fly tethered- because wireless signals don’t work very well at depth - underwater allowing inspection to be carried out from the comfort of the deck of an oil rig or ship. Students at Rutgers University developed the unit in response to a commission from the Office or Naval Research which wanted a flying device that could be used anywhere and for any purpose.
At the moment, it’s about the size of a child’s toy but there are plans to scale it up so that it can carry heavier payloads including high definition underwater cameras and sensors to be used for whatever mission it’s needed for. Since at present it’s only being tested in swimming pools there aren’t issues with pressure changes but for it to be used in open water where gas and oil pipelines are at hundreds if meters, it needs to withstand extreme changes pressure so it doesn’t get squeezed like a sponge.
To see how it’s working in the University’s pool watch this video.