Could these marvelous creations end the need for technicians to inspect wind farms for damage and carry out repairs? That pretty much is the idea behind these fully autonomous robots.
Developed by a team of scientists led by two Scottish universities, these robots don’t require a human operator — unlike most drones.
Unveiled at a demo day at the National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, Northumberland, these robotic inspectors were the star of the show that also had 15 other autonomous and semi-autonomous robots that could be used for inspection and maintenance of offshore energy infrastructure.
Aerial drones are already being used in the wild to inspect hard-to-reach and offshore structures. But this one goes the extra mile, in how it has a robotic arm and can attach itself to vertical surfaces. It can even deploy a sensor and carry out a repair.
As Dr Mirko Kovac, director of the aerial robotics laboratory at Imperial College London, also part of the project, puts it:
“Our drones are fully autonomous. As well as visually inspecting a turbine for integrity concerns, ours make contact, placing sensors on the infrastructure, or acting as a sensor itself, to assess the health of each asset.
This has far reaching applications including removing the need for humans to abseil down the side of turbines which can be both dangerous and expensive Our drones could also reduce the number of vessels travelling to and from wind farms, providing the industry with both cost and environmental benefits.”
Sign me up, Scotty!
This technology was developed by the Offshore Robotics for the Certification of Assets Hub, also known as Orca. This consortium of five universities is led by the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, and is working with 35 industrial and innovation partners.
The event also included other demonstrators, including Limpet, designed to be a cost-effective integrated multi-sensing device designed for deployment in large collectives.