Autonomous Offshore Drone (AOD)

This project aims to develop a concept for the automatic inspection of offshore wind turbines (OWTs) using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). The drones perform their entire missions autonomously and without human supervision. During their mission, they carry a sensor suite onboard, which includes a particular type of infrared camera with special software. These sensors allow the drones to detect structural damages in the rotor blades below their visible surface, preventing the blades from breaking and falling off the turbine. 

The work packages of the University of Lübeck include the design of a UAV prototype, which uses algorithms based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to plan and execute their missions. The missions comprise starting and landing from a ship, the transfer flight to the OWT, and the inspection maneuvers along the turbine’s blades with given specifications (e.g., distance, velocity). Particular challenges include the localization / orientation of the drone along the wind turbine, starting and landing on a ship forced by waves, and the extreme weather conditions in an offshore scenario, where wind speeds up to force 7 represent substantial disturbances to the drone’s operation.