VersaTOL Validates Patent-Pending Drone Inspection Method

Industrial chimneys are regularly inspected to ensure their structural integrity.  Often this requires a person to physically traverse the interior and exterior of a stack by repelling on ropes. Not only does this operation require a scheduled shutdown to complete, but it also poses a significant safety risk to the crew involved. UAV’s provide an obvious opportunity to improve both the efficiency and safety of this operation, but, until now, only for the exterior of a chimney. Robotically inspecting the interior of a stack presents a much more complex task, and has therefore limited UAV technologies disruptive potential in this particular vertical market.

In collaboration with The Department of Energy, UCORR, and AECOM, VersaTOL ( has validated it’s patent-pending drone-based method for inspecting the interior of industrial chimney stacks. The first two chimney flues were inspected at Oak Ridge National Laboratories in 2016 with a third to be inspected there in 2017. “For the second stack at Oak Ridge, we had a strict two-hour window to inspect the entire inside and outside of the chimney before it had to go back on-line.” Said Lawrence Corban, a co-founder of VersaTOL UAS. “An inspection like this would usually require days of shut down; our drone-based solution enabled us to finish in less than an hour and a half.”