Perceptual Robotics is working alongside ASV Global, which makes unmanned marine vehicles, Vulcan UAV, which produces multi-rotor aircraft systems, and researchers from the University of Bristol’s visual information laboratory on the project.
The group hopes to use 3D tracking to enable drones fitted with cameras to navigate offshore wind farms and carry out inspections. It believes remote operation will reduce the need for labour-intensive and costly manual inspection.
The consortium was awarded £1.2 million (€1.35 million) by the UK government as part of its industrial strategy challenge fund to "develop new solutions for extreme working environments".
Chief technology officer at Perceptual Robotics, Kevin Lind, said: "The offshore wind energy market is really centred around the North Sea, and the UK has a very big stake in that that, so we are addressing the total costs of operation and maintenance.
"The North Sea especially has very high wind and wave conditions and so carrying out industrial inspection with robotic systems is a challenging task."
The group’s first product, Dhalion, can collect inspection data including lightning strikes, cracks, erosion and delamination of a turbine "in minutes", Perceptual Robotics claims.
The drone is reportedly capable of operating in wind speeds of up to 15m/sand light rain for more than six hours a day.