Fully autonomous drones developed by Scottish scientists to aid offshore industry

Wind Farm

Scottish scientists have developed drones that can inspect damaged wind farms without the need of a human operator, the BBC has reported.

The fully autonomous drones are being developed by the Offshore Robotics for Certification of Assets hub (Orca) in a multi-million pound project.

The drones go further than most that are used for inspection offshore, with the robot able to attach itself to vertical surfaces and also possessing a robotic arm.

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In addition to being able to fly out and inspect a wind turbine, the drone will be able to deploy a sensor and possible carry out a repair.

This robot, which has been produced by the company ANYbotics, has four legs, as opposed to wheels and is therefore also able to walk.

According to the BBC, the Orca Hub’s principal investigator, Prof David Lane of Heriot-Watt University, said it presents new opportunities in the energy industry.

He said: “A lot of the offshore platforms we work on are very small. The spaces are very confined, and wheeled robots won’t be able to negotiate their way around the whole platform.

“So robots that crawl, that have legs and can walk, they can go places on the platform that other robots wouldn’t be able to.”

Also reported by the BBC, Helen Hastie, professor of computer science at Heriot-Watt and one of Orca’s technical leads, said: “They have an autonomous element, which means that they sense the environment and can make certain decisions by themselves.”

“But what’s important is transparency, so that the operator understands what the robot is doing and why, and we’re trying to get the robots to be explainable so they can explain their behaviour to the operator.”

Tags : AutonomousoffshoreOrcaScotland
Patrick Cremona

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