Drone technology improves inspection of US offshore wind platforms

US offshore wind company Deepwater Wind has recently authorised deployments of drone technology to capture high resolution data of all five of its offshore wind platforms just off Block Island.
Drone technology improves inspection of US offshore wind platforms
Courtesy of ULC Robotics

The imagery and data obtained during the flights will be used as a baseline for comparative data following future flights.

“Conventional inspection typically requires a team of engineers to board the platform and use a series of ladders to climb to the platform” said Captain John O'Keeffe, Manager, Operations & Maintenance and Marine Affairs at Deepwater Wind. “Using drones, ULC Robotics’ Aerial Services team was able to deliver more detailed data without the risks associated with climbing up to the platform, improving the safety of our team. A key part of delivering reliable, clean energy to the U.S. is having the access to critical data on our infrastructure. In addition to providing advanced data, drones will allow Deepwater Wind to continue to be a pioneer in offshore wind development and deliver our commitments to communities and the environment.”

Deepwater Wind is based in Rhode Island and began commercial operation of the first US offshore wind farm in 2016. In addition to inspection of the platform itself, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) will play a significant role in the US Offshore Wind market by aiding in siting, environmental monitoring, routine assessments and emergency response.

The drones being used for the inspection of the offshore wind platforms off Block Island are developed and deployed by ULC Robotics’ UAV pilots and engineering team, who used a marine vessel to take off and land. The aircraft was outfitted with a high resolution DSLR camera to capture detailed imagery of the support structure and welds. Engineers from Keystone Engineering Inc., who designed the foundations for Deepwater Wind, were able to utilize the data to deliver a total assessment with unprecedented accuracy and expediency.

“This initial collaboration between Deepwater Wind and ULC Robotics resulted in a very successful set of flights and data” added Gregory Penza, President of ULC Robotics. “Our team of engineers and pilots are already building advanced prototype vertical take-off and landing UAS that will be capable of servicing the growing offshore wind market. This new UAS will support the full life cycle of wind turbines from siting and environmental monitoring to construction surveys and emergency response.”

As REM reported on Friday, Deepwater Wind has now been acquired by Danish offshore wind company Ørsted, the transaction being expected to close by the end of the year.

For additional information:

Deepwater Wind

ULC Robotics

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