There is no system on the market capable of carrying out inspection of the rotor blades while they are in operation due to technical complexity. Therefore, during inspection the wind turbine must be out of service and stopped, leading to unavailability and causing significant loss of electricity production and income. The proposed project aims to solve the technical complexity of rotor blades inspection during wind turbine normal operation and consequently increase its electricity production. To that end, the project will develop a new autonomous visual inspection system of rotor blades based on a single micro aerial vehicle (MAV), capable to perform visual inspection of rotating rotor blades autonomously, so that an untrained pilot can safely and efficiently operate it. Therefore, an inspection expert, untrained in piloting MAVs, will be able to tele‐operate the MAV as an aid to his/her mission, while being able to focus on the inspection task at hand.
To successfully solve this task, we brought together different expertise emanating from research and industry. Accordingly, this project proposal is the joint effort of University of Zagreb (UNIZG-FER), University of Dubrovnik (UNIDU) and DiagnostiQA Consultoria Tecnica (DQA). Together we participate in the EUROC Challenge 3 under the name BladeHunters (more information about us at https://sites.google.com/site/eurocunizgfer/home).
The proposed system will be developed in 26 months through Stage II – Realistic Labs and Stage III – Field tests of the EUROC Challenge. In Stage IIa - Benchmarking + Free-style round, we will show our capability to solve a use-case driven task defined by the challenge host and a task defined by our team chosen to demonstrate our know-how not entirely included in the first task. Successful completion of this round shows our skill to tackle new problems and solve them in the Realistic Lab setting, thus enabling us to proceed to the next round Stage IIb - Showcase, the end-user driven task. Bringing a real life scenario, proposed in Stage III of the project, to the Realistic Lab setting within this round, will enable us to increase the TechnologyReadiness Level of the proposed aerial system, thus shorten the time needed for Field-test implementation at Stage III.
Development of a comprehensive aerial system for autonomous inspection of rotating turbine blades in real operating conditions requires the expertise of all team participants whose background and previous experience corroborate their commitment to this project and the capabilities in delivering the tasks assigned to them. Altogether, participants collectively constitute a team capable of achieving the project objectives, broken down into tasks and assigned to participants based on their fields of expertise.