Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide low cost and safer external inspections of turbines.
Who supplies them
Manufacturers: Aerial Vision, ASV Global, DJI and SkyFront.
Operators: Cyberhawk, Esvagt, Force Technology, Perceptual Robotics and SkySpecs.
Most UAVs for wind turbine inspection are multi-rotor copter drones.
Drones are typically provided by specialist operators and are rented with qualified pilots.
Drones can perform an inspection in a fraction of the time required for a traditional rope-access inspection.
The drone can be equipped with a digital camera, a thermographic camera or a combination, depending on the scope of the inspection task. A digital camera provides proof of the visual failures and damages to the tower, nacelle, rotor blades and bolt jointing.
Thermographic inspection is a non-contact and non-destructive inspection method that makes it possible to examine a large area of the blade for structural defects and weaknesses in the blade. With infrared thermography, the drone monitors variations in the surface temperature of the blades.
A number of specialist suppliers supply the industry with integrated drone inspection, image diagnostics and data archiving services.