Since its conception, Pro-Drone’s mission is to revolutionize how wind turbines’ rotor blade inspections are carried out. In early September 2016 this mission became closer to reality when Pro-Drone successfully accomplished an autonomous inspection on a wind turbine located in the Vila Nova wind-park, near Coimbra, Portugal.
After taking off, our drone was able to identify its location and lock on the programmed target (the specific blade which would be inspected first). Then, it carried out the inspection by sensing the object captured by the camera and other sensors and quickly sweeping the surface of the blade looking for damages. This process is then repeated for each blade, allowing a fully autonomous aerial inspections for the entire turbine.
The result was an inspection carried out in less than 40 minutes, a 4x improvement on current best practice.
Pro-Drone aims to complete several other autonomous inspections before the end of they year, allowing us to fine tune our processes ahead of 2017’s rotor inspection season.