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Autonomous wind turbine inspection

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Creating intelligent autonomous systems

Perceptual Robotics work flow

Perceptual Robotics is applying leading edge autonomy concepts to industrial applications.

Currently based in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, our passion is to bridge the divide between academia and industry.

Through our Innovate UK project we will be developing a fully autonomous system for the intelligent, efficient and reliable inspection of wind turbines.

Autonomous wind turbine inspection

Wind turbine being inspected by Perceptual Robotics technology

With the increased drive towards renewables worldwide, the wind turbine market has grown rapidly, from a global capacity of 60GW in 2005 to 400GW in 2014.

Every individual turbine must be inspected regularly throughout its operational lifetime, and existing inspection methods can be expensive, time consuming and inconsistent.

Our idea is to develop a fully automatic process to inspect wind turbines, exploiting autonomous drones, for the repeatable, reliable and inexpensive acquisition of data. This will include the use of machine learning methods for the automatic processing of images and identification of defects.

Thinking in 3D

The wind turbine industry, has been moving to higher resolution images for evaluating surface defects such as erosion, delamination and cracks. These efforts however have been limited to ground based high resolution cameras. There is a better way to take the pictures by placing a camera carried by a drone anywhere in 3D space, which allows for full coverage of the complete structure.

These techniques have already been applied to two dimensional problems, such as crop monitoring for agriculture. Our innovation comes from extending the use of these algorithms to 3D structures.

A single inspection produces hundreds of images. To fully automate the process, we are training the drone to identify the possible defects from the large amount of data and alert the wind farms operators.

Designed and intended as a tool for industry operators, we will provide a low cost, high end solution for aerial inspection, applicable across the renewable sector and into a wide range of industrial applications.

The next frontier of automation

Perceptual Robotics team

Working with Innovate UK and the University of Bristol, we are incredibly excited to be at the forefront of robotic inspection.

Through this project we will be moving from proof of concept flight systems to a full-scale prototype for benchmarking quality and reliability.

In the coming years, we will broaden the impact of the technology to include the inspection of construction sites, ships, power lines and oil rigs.

As a company, we see our future in pushing the frontier of automation to include outdoor, complex and unpredictable environments applying our technologies to new challenges and situations.

Intelligent robotic systems will be at the heart of the next industrial revolution, and at Perceptual Robotics we will be playing our part in realising the potential of autonomy.

This blog is an example of projects funded through Innovate UK’s Open programme.

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This blog is an example of projects funded through Innovate UK’s Open programme.

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