Drones May Become Useful Inspectors of Wind Turbines

Posted by Betsy Lillian on August 11, 2014 No Comments
Categories : Business Operations

A solar installation company in Vegas recently said it would begin sending up unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to perform inspections and assess rooftop spaces in the drafting and designing process of an array. Now, UAV inspections may not be too far off for wind turbines.

An article from Student Reporter says SkySpecs, a developer of UAVs for the purpose of inspections, is looking to incorporate the practice at the Wild Horse Wind Farm in Washington state and has been talking to UpWind Solutions, a turbine inspector in Texas.

When a team from SkySpecs saw firsthand UpWind’s inspection of turbines, they found that the process was not only potentially hazardous to the workers, but also time-consuming and costly.

In the first round of inspections, workers take photos from the ground of the turbines, but if they find that something needs a closer look, they must use ropes to go up and down the massive towers – spending over an hour on only one blade, the report says. A drone would act as a set of eyes for the inspectors but cannot, however, physically assess the turbines (e.g., touching a blade to feel for any breakage).

Because a collision between the aircraft and the turbine is an obvious concern, SkySpecs is reportedly developing an “Immediate Obstacle Detection and Avoidance System.” Of course, one major roadblock comes from the regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration: The agency has yet to green-light the commercial use of UAVs.

Read the full Student Reporter story here.

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