Drone Technology Improves Inspection of U.S. Offshore Wind Platforms

Deepwater Wind, ULC Robotics and Keystone Engineering Collaborate on Usage of Remote Piloted Aerial Systems

Image: ULC RoboticsImage: ULC Robotics

Rhode Island-based Deepwater Wind, who began commercial operation of the first U.S. offshore wind farm in 2016, recently authorized deployments of drone technology to capture high resolution data of all five of its offshore wind platforms just off Block Island. 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,” says 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.”

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.

O'Keeffe continued, “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.”

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,” says 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.”

ULC Robotics
Press Office
ULC Robotics, Deepwater Wind, Block Island, drone, inspection, drone, offshore, wind farm, USA, Keystone Engineering

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