Dron embedded system to inspect wind turbines without stop

Innovative product that enables the complete inspection of the three blades of a wind turbine generator without the need to stop it. No intervention is needed on the WTG, which can keep generating clean energy.

R&D work at IM FUture | 2018-2019
Drone hovering before a running wind turbine generator

In the wind energy industry, wind farm owners need to keep a record of periodical inspections of all the wind turbine generators they have if they want to avoid or at least plan in advance any repair or replacement.

The first and easiest inspection for the blades is the visual inspection from the outside. There are several methods to do this, but taking photos from the ground with a telescope is one of the most common ones so far. However, all these methods have one thing in common: they need to stop the WTG to take the photos and register the position of any defect.

When a WTG is stopped for maintenance reasons, energy that could have been produced is lost. Stopping the turbine for these inspections has been an unavoidable side-cost so far.

The simulation below is a really simple description of the idea. It was part of the presentation we did on this project during the Next Generation Inspection Methods – Meeting for wind turbine owners seminar organized by Bladena in Copenhagen on June 5th, 2018.

This was a really interesting, demanding and rewarding project to work within the blades department in IM Future. I started from the beginning with the very first ideas and concepts, going through technical research and prototypes to check the concept and finally the development of the system on-board.

The hardware for the system was made using Blender and a 3D printer, and the main software was written in Arduino and python.

electronics and laptop on a table