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SCCoE assisted project granted £1.6 million to develop drone swarms to inspect wind turbines

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The South Coast Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications has been busy during the latest lockdown working behind the scenes with Airborne Robotics to get their latest project Dr-SUIT (Drone Swarm for Unmanned Inspection of Wind Turbines) off the ground. And we are delighted to announce that the project has now officially begun.

The £1.6 million project is funded by the Future Flight Challenge programme from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. It will be delivered by the University of Portsmouth in partnership with Airborne Robotics, Bentley Telecom and Ocean Infinity.

The aim is to develop an autonomous offshore wind farm inspection fleet consisting of unmanned drone swarms and a marine robotic vessel by 2022. With view to solve the problem of dangerous and inefficient maintenance of off shore wind-farms, with drones able to inspect an entire offshore wind farm of more than 100 turbines in a fifth of the time.

The South Coast centre of Excellence has been involved every step of the way helping Airborne Robotics identify and access the expertise available at the University of Portsmouth, identifying funding, brokering introductions, hosting project development meetings as well as reviewing and critiquing proposal drafts. Our very own Director of Operations Professor Djamila Ouelhadj is leading on the drone swarm operational platform. 


Talking of the project Djamila Quelhadj says:
 “I am very delighted to work with Airborne Robotics and the partners to develop the drone swarm operational platform and swarm optimisation intelligent methods for the real-time routing of drone swarms for unmanned inspection of wind turbines. The drone swarm operational platform will examine hovering time, flying time, wind conditions, collision avoidance and the power consumption of on-board equipment in order to determine the most efficient and cost-effective drone swarm configuration for the inspection of an entire wind farm. The drone swarm inspection will play a vital role in transforming the energy industry by reducing risk, lowering cost and improving business efficiency. Seamlessly integrating autonomous data collection solutions with powerful analytics enables the safe, accurate & repeatable inspection of wind turbine blades“. 

Once that this project is completed, we expect that the technology developed here will have applications in a variety of sectors including mining, forestry, solar and more.

As Louise Butt our Business Development Manager confirms, ‘Satellite technologies continue to play an essential role in the continued roll-out of remote sensing and autonomous systems, providing the necessary infrastructure for unmanned technology deployment. With the UK’s ever-growing reliance on renewable energy, we see the wind-farm sector as a major beneficiary with increased productivity and minimised human intervention as a result of these space assets.’


More information about this project available on the University of Portsmouth website.

Chloe McClellan
Media and Communications Assistant
Chloe McClellan is an experienced communicator and social media specialist.