Connected drones: The next technology advance for wind turbine inspections

Drone inspections play a vital role in preventive maintenance of vertical structures, ships, worksites and horizontal infrastructure like railroad tracks and power lines. Therefore, connected drones are the next phase of this technology. In the near future, the main mode of operations for unmanned aerial vehicles will be autonomous flights, beyond sight line of any pilot. Automation plus emerging 5G cellular networks can make the work of inspecting wind turbines far faster and also yield better insights at much less cost. Improved maintenance could lead to more reliable wind power generation and improved ROI by extending the life of turbine blades. Let’s look at how this is unfolding with the latest advances in uncrewed aerial systems. Today, a field team heads to a wind farm with a drone equipped with high-resolution photography, LiDAR light detection and ranging and thermal detection instruments. During the inspection flight, the drone captures high-resolution images that can measure erosion on blade edges. The infrared camera and LiDAR sensor look for hidden damage inside the equipment, seeing up to 15-cm deep. The data collected is most likely saved onto a secure digital card, uploaded to a laptop and emailed back to the office for analysis. This entire inspection takes about 45 minutes.

Spotlight

Spotlight

Related News