A consortium comprising BeeX, Sulmara, and the University of Strathclyde has secured Enterprise Singapore – Innovate UK grant to develop a next-generation autonomous integrity inspection capability for offshore wind turbines.
Autonomous robotics specialist BeeX, offshore survey and inspection specialist Sulmara, and structural integrity specialists at the University of Strathclyde joined forces to deliver an autonomous low-carbon solution for wind farm integrity monitoring.
The goal is a Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solution that could reduce the resources required to conduct essential underwater inspections and asset integrity assessments of offshore wind turbines.
Operations and maintenance costs at offshore wind farms remain the biggest operational cost, said the partners.
The costs are largely driven by the use of Dynamically Positioned (DP2) vessels to deploy work-class remotely operated vehicles (WROVs).
Assisted by the grant funding, BeeX will be delivering their next-generation hovering autonomous underwater vehicle (HAUV) specifically for offshore wind to carry survey and inspection payloads suitable for monopile and jacket inspections, piloted by artificial intelligence to automate inspection tasks and deliver repeatable efficient inspection of wind farm monopiles from seabed to the air-water interface.
This HAUV will be equipped with new features including enhanced endurance and improved sensor payload from learning discovered from BeeX’s experience with their flagship HAUV, A.IKANBILIS on the Nordsee One offshore wind farm in Germany last year.
Sulmara’s scope will define the vertical asset inspection capabilities and sensor payloads needed for this next-generation HAUV to meet the demands of the offshore wind sector as well as manage field trials and demonstration of the system alongside BeeX in 2024, with the aim to integrate the HAUV into a bespoke Unmanned Surface Vessel.
The inspection missions will be optimised based on research by the University of Strathclyde, in developing a structural integrity framework to generate risk-based, fit-for-purpose, inspection missions that will feed into the HAUV automated mission control software.
The RaaS solution could contribute to meeting Europe’s net-zero commitments by slashing energy requirements and emissions related to inspection activities in the offshore wind sector.
“By 2025, we expect BeeX’s fully autonomous systems to help wind farm developers and operators reduce costs and risks to a fraction of today’s, from consenting to end-of-life”, said Grace Chia, CEO of BeeX.