Published: 09 March 2021 09 March 2021
Deme Offshore and Sabca have performed tests with autonomous drones at the Rentel offshore wind farm in Belgium. The pilot study represents the first commercial, cross-border, ‘beyond visual line of sight’ (BVLOS) drone operations to take place at offshore wind farms in the North Sea.
The partners performed a diverse range of tests on various use cases including Search & Rescue operations, environmental surveys, turbine and substation inspections, as well as parcel deliveries. Both a ‘traditional’ multicopter drone and a fixed-wing surveillance drone, which has a wing span of more than 3 metres, were deployed in parallel. The long endurance surveillance drone took off from the Belgian coast and flew all the way to the Rentel wind farm, which is more than 35 km off the coast. Meanwhile, an automated resident drone performed inspections and cargo flights from the substation and vessels. This drone also conducted a full Search & Rescue demonstration using infrared detection and life buoy dropping. By combining the drone operations with the use of artificial intelligence for automatic image processing, a strong set of tools has been developed to automate operations.