When a wind turbine blade needs to be inspected for cracks or a jacket foundation must be checked for rust, the task often requires trained specialists wearing harnesses and helmets, climbing with ropes and lines to solve the task. It requires a significant set-up and includes both a risk aspect and a limited time window.
Drone technology has the potential to change all this. This is shown by the preliminary work in the innovation project Offshore Operating Drones, says Benjamin Mejnertz, partner in the company Upteko:
“The potential is huge across segments, types of measurements and even industries,” he says:
“We have developed a platform for measurements, which is a multipurpose drone system and the ideal platform for collecting all kinds of data. Whether it is for the detection of a gas leak, measurement of rust, thermal measurements, or something completely different is secondary – the drone can be a platform for precisely the application that is desired”, says Benjamin Mejnertz.
The tool of the future
In the Offshore Operating Drones project, work has been done to transport the drone to the ship and send the drone into the air to collect data. The information obtained is processed by AI and results in a recommendation regarding, for instance, repair and maintenance.
“We believe that drones will be one of the tools one will work with on a whole range of tasks in the future,” says Flemming Hjorth, Head of New Services Business Development at ESVAGT:
“There is still a lack of automation and development in other areas, but the drones are in rapid development, where they are becoming more and more advanced. In the project, we have been assured that the detector system works, and that alone opens up an enormous potential,” he says.
Energy Cluster Denmark has facilitated the project, and CEO Glenda Napier is pleased with the results so far.
“What we like to say about our approach to innovation is that we are only at the finish line when the sensor measures and the drone flies. That is literally what is happening here, and we are excited to follow along with how drone technology will change the energy sector,” says Glenda Napier.
In addition to ESVAGT and Upteko, Windpower LAB and Dansk Fundamental Metrologi A/S are also participating in the project.