Ann Arbor-based drone solutions company SkySpecs today announced a collaboration with German manufacturing and electronics company Siemens, to deploy automated drone technology for onshore and offshore wind turbine inspections. The initiative’s goal is to develop a push-button inspection system that is faster, repeatable, and more efficient than existing methods.
Siemens is involving its wind power business and
tis its so-called “next47 venture unit,” which was established in October 2016 to accelerate the development of new technologies. Siemens and SkySpecs are working to refine its technology for utility scale wind turbine inspections and prepare it for commercial readiness. The joint effort will enable Siemens to incorporate more advanced preventative maintenance techniques using SkySpecs’ technology.
SkySpecs’ blade inspections are automated from start to finish, minimizing the need for highly trained and cost prohibitive human resources to manage the drones. The baseline solution allows drones to take off, capture high-resolution images of all four sides of each blade, return and land in under 15 minutes. The blades do not need to be stopped in any particular orientation. The automation process offers the flexibility to conduct inspections on-demand rather and at set intervals.
“We have been working with customers and partners in the wind energy industry to develop the most effortless and technologically sophisticated – yet fully automated – solution on the market,” says Danny Ellis, CEO of SkySpecs. “Siemens Wind Power is motivated to improve turbine inspection technology, including data collection and analysis, and have provided us access to their deep resources and expertise. Siemens has an incredibly impressive understanding of both the wind energy markets and autonomous technology.”
Experts at both companies agree drone technology has evolved from a niched hobby to a global transportation reality in the past five years, due to smaller and more powerful computing platforms and sensors, better battery technology, and improved algorithms for managing flight and safety.
Drones are currently used by many businesses in several industries, from delivery to industrial inspection. While past models required a professional pilot, today’s drones are flying with increasing autonomy.
Skyspecs combines expertise in robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine-based analytics to advance drone inspections. The company uses proprietary software and hardware to provide end-to-end solutions that include data collection, damage identification, classification, and recommendations. The company’s technology helps generate timely, precise, and easy-to-consume inspection data, while simultaneously minimizing down-time and personnel-related expenses.