Drone v ground camera for wind turbine blade inspection
Many wind turbine owners, operators and OEMs new to the world of UAV inspection are dubious about the accuracy and quality of data that can be achieved through this solution. We could tell you all about how we can size defects down to +/- 5mm accuracy, or position the defects to a few centimetres from the root and leading edge, but we thought a real-life example would be more interesting….
In a recent project for a major OEM, Cyberhawk was tasked with inspecting blades at an onshore wind farm in the UK. The OEM was keen to compare our drone captured data to that from their traditional ground camera solution. Despite 25 knot (12.8m/s) wind speeds, our team mobilised to site and conducted the inspection in just a few minutes.
The interesting part, however, is that our UAV inspection identified a crack on the trailing edge of one blade which the inspection using a ground camera failed to pick up. Trailing edge cracks can be difficult to see and if not detected and monitored from an early stage, can become progressively worse, leading to structural damage and costly repairs.
This example proves an important point. It demonstrated that an experienced UAV inspection team can not only match the quality of traditional inspection methods, but can actually identify defects which may not previously have been picked up – without requiring technicians to work at height.