iX Challenge: Novel Sensor Payloads for Asset Inspection Drones

The Innovation Exchange programme is working alongside Futureworx to find novel sensors and/or data processing techniques that can be deployed in scenarios offering relatively low Size-Weight-Power-Cooling (SWAPC) budgets. These will initially be aimed at demanding industrial environments, such as the ongoing survey and maintenance of offshore infrastructure.

Opportunity Details


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Selected applicants will be given an opportunity to present their technology in person with Futureworx. Successful applicants will be taken forward into a collaborative demonstration phase.

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Futureworx is currently researching technologies for faster and more efficient inspection of industrial assets, including those deployed in onshore and offshore environments (e.g. oil and gas, renewable energy). The latter environment in particular is considered harsher and more demanding, and therefore a good starting point for specifically identifying robust inspection tools.

Futureworx is looking for novel sensors and/or data processing techniques that can be deployed in scenarios offering relatively low Size-Weight-Power-Cooling (SWAPC) budgets. These technologies will be used in applications throughout the lifecycle of an industrial asset, from survey and construction, through-life operation, inspections, maintenance and decommissioning. Futureworx is particularly interested in the non-destructive testing (NDI) of composite and metallic structures.

Proposals are welcome for:

  • Existing market-ready, proven technologies
  • Solutions in development which improve on current industry standards

Whilst not limiting the technologies from solution providers, it is expected that solutions would consider innovations from some of the following areas:

  • Sensors and monitoring
  • Digital and data analytics
  • Data compression


A solution must:

  • Weigh less than 5kg
  • A sensor/computing solution must have a suitable electro-mechanical interface with an inspection system (applicant should assume the modular design of a deployed system would enable a wide range of sensor sizes to be installed)
  • Be environmentally ruggedised (or capable of being ruggedised), i.e.be capable of long-term remote deployment in an austere environment
  • Use onboard edge processing to minimise the data transfer requirements (although this is not necessarily essential if data sizes are manageable)

Integrated solutions must be able to be operated safely and reliably (without regular human contact) in offshore conditions:

  • Ambient temperatures of -19 to 49C
    NB payload equipment does not necessarily need to be operable across the full breadth of this range, but ideally should be able to survive exposure to this temperature range (non-operating) and continue to be operable thereafter
  • Repeated exposure to salt-laden atmospheres

Solutions should ideally be deployable for prototype testing within 12 months of the competition win, and be fully deployable commercially within 2 years.

Entrants to this competition will be:

  • Established businesses, start-ups, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) or individual entrepreneurs
  • UK based or have the intention to set up a UK base

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