Deepwater Wind, ULC Robotics and Keystone Engineering Collaborate on Usage of Remote Piloted Aerial Systems
Rhode Island-based Deepwater Wind, who began commercial operation of the first U.S. offshore wind farm in 2016, recently authorized deployments of drone technology to capture high-resolution data of all five of its offshore wind platforms just off Block Island. Imagery and data obtained during the flights will be used as a baseline for comparative data following future flights.
“Conventional inspection typically requires a team of engineers to board the platform and use a series of ladders to climb to the platform,” says Captain John O’Keeffe, Manager, Operations & Maintenance and Marine Affairs at Deepwater Wind. “Using drones, ULC Robotics’ Aerial Services team was able to deliver more detailed data without the risks associated with climbing up to the platform, improving the safety of our team.”
In addition to the inspection of the platform itself, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) will play a significant role in the US Offshore Wind market by aiding in siting, environmental monitoring, routine assessments and emergency response.
O’Keeffe continued, “A key part of delivering reliable, clean energy to the U.S. is having the access to critical data on our infrastructure. In addition to providing advanced data, drones will allow Deepwater Wind to continue to be a pioneer in offshore wind development and deliver our commitments to communities and the environment.”
The drones being used for the inspection of the offshore wind platforms off Block Island are developed and deployed by ULC Robotics’ UAV pilots and engineering team, who used a marine vessel to take off and land. The aircraft was outfitted with a high-resolution DSLR camera to capture detailed images of the support structure and welds. Engineers from Keystone Engineering Inc., who designed the foundations for Deepwater Wind, were able to utilize the data to deliver a total assessment with unprecedented accuracy and expediency.
“This initial collaboration between Deepwater Wind and ULC Robotics resulted in a very successful set of flights and data,” says Gregory Penza, President of ULC Robotics. “Our team of engineers and pilots are already building advanced prototype vertical take-off and landing UAS that will be capable of servicing the growing offshore wind market. This new UAS will support the full life cycle of wind turbines from siting and environmental monitoring to construction surveys and emergency response.”
About Deepwater Wind Deepwater Wind is proud to be America’s leading offshore wind developer. The Company is actively planning offshore wind projects to serve multiple East Coast markets located 15 or more miles offshore, including Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. The Company’s Block Island Wind Farm is America’s first offshore wind farm.
About ULC Robotics
ULC Aerial Services, a division of ULC Robotics, is successfully penetrating the market of UAV services through technical leadership, expansive utility business expertise, and strategic partnerships. Its diverse team of unmanned system pilots, engineers, sensor scientists, and project managers brings the utility and energy industry an end-to-end solution for unmanned aerial inspection using custom-designed, fully autonomous aircraft deployed by a crew of expert pilots.
About Keystone Engineering Inc.
Keystone Engineering Inc. is a Louisiana-based engineering and design company founded in 1988 by Rudy Hall, P.E. and Ed Genois, P.E. The 300+ employee company specializes in providing multi-discipline engineering solutions for various segments including oil & gas, manufacturing and offshore renewable energy markets throughout the world.
Published at Tue, 16 Oct 2018 15:39:45 +0000
Avitas Systems, a GE venture, announced that it received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to fly an unmanned aerial system (UAS) beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) in Loving County, Texas. The permission authorizes Avitas Systems to fly a UAS over 55 pounds at low altitudes without a visual observer for industrial inspection; it is the first FAA-approved civil use of BVLOS with radar.
“Being the first FAA-approved civil use of BVLOS with radar is a significant achievement for Avitas Systems and our customers,” said Brad Tomer, Interim CEO for Avitas Systems. “Using a technology-centric and collaborative approach is what drives our ability to transform industrial operations and provide safer and more efficient services. We worked closely with Shell Oil Company (Shell) for the use case, location, and to show how this technology can improve industrial operational efficiency and safety. The FAA provided the necessary feedback to enable our team to design a system that safely meets the aviation regulatory requirements. And, we had system design, safety, test, analysis, and validation support from AiRXOS, also a GE venture company.”
Currently, regulations require UAS to stay within range of the pilot’s vision. The FAA’s permission allows Avitas Systems to use a radar system and enhanced operational procedures to provide an equivalent level of safety. The extended range of BVLOS operations allows for safer, and more efficient monitoring of critical industrial infrastructure, including well pads separated by rough terrain in the Permian Basin in West Texas. Better turnaround of inspection data leads to cost efficiency and faster facility repairs, compared to traditional methods such as driving to each individual inspection site. When the Avitas Systems technology is combined with advanced analytics, it enables more accurate and efficient monitoring/detection and repair of leaks. It also reduces road safety-related risks by minimizing the number of miles driven each day.
“Drones are already an integral part of Shell’s digital operations, with missions flown daily across our global footprint,” said Bruce Culpepper, U.S. Country Chair for Shell. “Now, with the FAA’s approval and with the assistance of Avitas Systems, we can fly over a larger area of our Permian Basin operations to conduct aerial monitoring of our oil and gas infrastructure. This includes leak detection and data gathering needed to make more efficient operational decisions, which will result in improved environmental performance with less strain on road infrastructure in the Permian Basin. This is a tremendous achievement made possible through collaboration with the FAA, GE, Avitas Systems, and Shell, and represents the future of drone-based surveillance technology in the U.S. Unconventionals fields of the future.”
BVLOS flight enables data collection in difficult, hard-to-reach places, keeping inspectors out of harm’s way. Avitas Systems integrates pilot-in-the-loop safety measures, using trailer-mounted radar, to ensure enhanced situational awareness during flights. The UAS use robust data links, so their sensors upload live streams of inspection data in real time to the Avitas Systems Platform for review and analysis while safely controlling the flight operation.
“We received the FAA’s permission due to our systematic approach of using airspace management with a unique combination of proven UAS radar and communications technologies, which demonstrate that safety is our top priority,” said Michael Clatworthy, Director of Flight Operations for Avitas Systems. “This is the first step in our approach to larger-scale BVLOS inspection operations.”
Looking ahead, Avitas Systems will continue to advance the integration of UASs in innovative ways to improve the safety, efficiency, and precision of industrial inspections.
Avitas Systems filed its petition for a grant of exemption pursuant to Section 2210 of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 and Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, with the support of AiRXOS, specializing in enabling advanced UAS operations, and Shell Air Transport – Americas.
About Avitas Systems, a GE Venture
Avitas Systems is a GE venture advancing the inspection and risk assessment services industries through predictive data analytics, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Its solutions increase safety and decrease inspection costs for industries by providing state-of-the-art robotic-based autonomous inspection management and a cloud-based platform that fuses, analyzes, and stores comprehensive inspection data to deliver advanced inspection scheduling recommendations based on anticipated risk. For more information, visit http://www.avitas-systems.com/, or follow us on Twitter (@Avitas_Systems)
Published at Tue, 16 Oct 2018 15:26:12 +0000