Effective safety procedures play a fundamental role in high-risk industrial contexts, because the occurrence of an accident can cause environmental catastrophes, severe damages to the structures, and fatal injuries to the workers. In particular, maintaining detailed and up-to-date information about potential accident areas is a crucial issue to prevent the occurrence of disasters and to safely plan the rescue process. In such contexts, periodic safety inspections are therefore performed on a regular basis, although they may expose the inspection personnel to harsh or hazardous environments. The employment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in such situations can provide unprecedented opportunities for predisaster analyses and site management operations. According to the current regulations, however, industrial contexts are classified as 'critical,' which substantially limits the possibilities of performing UAV operations in such places. The recent introduction of a simplified regulatory system for inoffensive UAVs has opened a wide landscape of new business opportunities. The article discusses the application of such technology for site analysis in industrial contexts, and illustrates the mandatory risk assessment procedure prescribed by the regulation. The results obtained show that although the technical advantages and economic convenience of employing this technology is generally recognized, at the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution, the market spread is still poor due to fragmented regulations, cultural barriers, and technical issues. In particular, the compliance with the ATEX directives still constitutes a significant technological problem substantially limiting the spread of innovative industrial services. Such issues are discussed in the article referring to a case study, in order to provide a reference guideline and to highlight the boundaries of application of innovative approaches to the prevention and management of industrial disasters based on UAV technology. In addition, the article identifies some important directives for further research and development of UAV systems capable to operate in high-risk industrial contexts, which constitutes an emerging business area with a vast potential market.
|Numero di pagine||12|
|Rivista||IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2020|
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