Why Autonomous Drones Blade Inspection is Changing the Game for Wind Asset Owners

Why Autonomous Drones Blade Inspection is Changing the Game for Wind Asset Owners

14 Aug 2023 Written by Naomi Stol Zamir

You don’t have to look far to find an industry that’s been transformed by technology. Leading-edge technologies like computer vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) have set the stage for entirely new disruption and transformation across almost every industry.

One example of this new class of disruptive technology is how computer vision has already transformed manufacturing by creating autonomous quality assurance (QA) processes. Now, computer vision and machine learning models are able to more accurately identify defects. Manufacturers that have deployed autonomous QA have increased throughput, reduced waste, and enhanced operational efficiency.

Autonomous blade inspections provide similar benefits to wind farm operations. vHive’s autonomous drone inspection software allows wind farms to inspect turbine blades more efficiently and accurately compared to existing methods, including rope inspections and manually piloted drones.

Why Autonomous Blade Inspection is Just As Disruptive

Computer vision and machine learning are at the forefront of disruption. Autonomous blade inspections are working to revolutionize how wind farms keep their turbine operations, just like manufacturers are now able to decrease manufacturing defects.

Turbine blade inspection is now more efficient thanks to autonomous drone software and digital twin technology transforming the industry in a few key ways, such as:

  • Able to conduct inspections more frequently to stay on top of any damage or degradation since inspections won’t take as long as either manually piloted drones or rope inspections.
  • Enhanced data capture during inspections, which produces robust data and enables intelligent analysis that can be monitored over time, with each inspection improving the effectiveness of future inspections, by gathering new data.
  • Enabling the creation of digital wind farms for more in-depth monitoring and analysis to reduce operational costs.
  • Allowing for more dynamic maintenance scheduling to service turbines strategically to expand turbine lifespans

How Autonomous Blade Inspection Solutions Impact Wind Farms

Autonomous blade inspection already has significant implications for enhancing wind farms’ bottom line. You’ll be able to optimize your operation expenses to create a more scalable wind farm that’s ready to take on the energy needs of the present and future generations.

vHive’s patented autonomous data capture technology allows for more precise, rapid capture of wind turbines. Other drone inspection options rely on manually piloted drones — which take longer, require specialized training, and are more prone for errors. The automated approach to turbine data capture takes human error out of the inspection process, ensuring more precise data that is not operator-dependent, but system-proofed, ultimately replacing time-consuming, inaccurate and costly processes

With our platform, technicians can deploy multi-drone configurations to rapidly inspect turbine blades and capture essential data that enhances wind asset management. Wind farms can then use our platform to tactfully create a Digital Twin of the entire operation that provides significant benefits, such as:

  • Autonomously inspect turbines at scale with minimal blade rotation: Remove the reliance on drone pilots by leveraging off-the-shelf drones equipped with Auto-Discovery technology, which creates consistent data gathering at a fraction of the cost.
  • Enhance turbine health and performance with AI-driven insights: vHive’s autonomous inspections work in tandem with our digital twin software. We create an accurate visual representation of your physical turbines, with every new inspection expanding the data set. From there, AI algorithms can enhance performance by automating turbine tagging and identifying potential faults.
  • Easy access to turbine-specific data or farm-level insights from a single dashboard: Autonomous blade inspections report data back to the vHive dashboard. You’ll be able to get all the data you need from one centralized platform on any browser. You’ll have a holistic view of all turbines, component health, and surroundings. Ultimately, your dashboard is a single source of truth for streamlined collaboration and transparency.

Each of these benefits works to lower costs, increase energy output, and improve workforce productivity. vHive’s technology allows wind farms to use low-cost, off-the-shelf drones with our autonomous drone software to make a massive impact on wind farms.

What is the Future of Wind Farm Management?

Wind farm management is certainly not done evolving. Our autonomous drone inspections represent a major leap forward, and emerging technologies will continue to create new opportunities to maximize energy output while reducing operating expenses. What might be on the horizon for wind farms?

Predictive Analytics

We’ve seen how rapid advancements in artificial intelligence have started disrupting entirely new industries for the first time, and the same underlying technology can help provide advanced predictive capabilities. Accurately understanding output degradation, identifying potential shutdowns, and eliminating collapses is undoubtedly on the way.

Data generated from both autonomous inspections and embedded sensors can generate entirely new datasets to help form the backbone of extremely accurate predictive analytics.

Industrial Internet of Things

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has already begun working its way into how wind farms are managed. Sensors are able to collect granular data about the performance of crucial components. IIoT is poised to become a core technology for wind farms.

The New Era of Transformation is Just Getting Started

We’re already seeing tangible results from autonomous blade inspections for the ultimate benefit of operational efficiency and profitability. Emerging technologies can massively benefit how wind farms are operated for the ultimate benefit of the world’s energy needs.

Digitization, automation, and artificial intelligence are exponentially advancing, and companies like vHive will keep leveraging emerging tech to provide valuable, tangible benefits to the entire wind energy industry.

Our experts understand the necessity of wind energy for the world’s net zero emissions goals and see the opportunity to enhance how farms operate. More benefits are just around the corner — we’re thrilled to be at the forefront and are already helping wind farms globally.

Ready to discover how we can help? Talk to our experts to try out the vHive solution for digitizing and optimizing wind turbines for better operational efficiency.


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