Drone Swarm for Unmanned Inspection of Wind Turbines (Dr-SUIT): Battery Health Management, Hybrid Comms Systems and Operational Platform for Autonomous Offshore Windfarm Inspection

Project Details


Utilising system-of-systems approach, Airborne Robotics (AR) and Bluelark are companies working in partnership with the University of Portsmouth (UoP) to develop a drone swarm deployment capability for an autonomous inspection in offshore windfarms (OWF). This project, namely Dr-Suit, is to address their O&M challenges, mainly related to access and environment hazards. Although drones have been used for WT inspection, a drone swarm deployment will provide more scopes for multi-techniques inspection/maintenance, larger/further coverage, and increased efficiency. Since drones are currently not designed for swarm operation at a standard use, Dr-Suit will develop an algorithm to interplay and enhance the design for progression to shift from a single pilot controlling a drone to a single pilot controlling multiple drones. A hybrid communication system of 5G, Satellite and the existing 4G will be integrated. Their performances in drone-to-drone or drone-to-operator for drone swarming further and beyond line of sight, and in responses to sensing and big data relay (e.g. inspection/IR imaging data) will be evaluated against speed, latency and redundancy. Battery life is another issue when calculating power and flight time required for an entire operation (accounting flying to above ~200m turbines and inspect ~70-90m long blades). Dr-Suit will consider a design for drones to dock, recharge or swap batteries, allowing for a quicker return to tasks, on an unmanned floating barge equipped with 10MW power unit, which also provides a platform to the 5G mast and satellite dish. A real time inspection’s scheduling and routing will be mathematically modelled factoring drone swarming performances (power, loading, safety, cost) and environment/weather. The use case live demonstration of an optimised drone swarm deployment performing blades inspection will conclude this Phase 2 project.
Short titleDrone Swarm Offshore Windfarms
Effective start/end date1/03/2131/08/22


  • Innovate UK: £284,819.00


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