UAS, Wind and The Story We’ll All Remember

By Luke Geiver | March 17, 2016

While standing near a cut-out of a massive wind turbine blade hoisted under a two-story ceiling, it was difficult to understand why a data company had invited us to its lab to talk UAS. But, over the course of a two-hour long sit-down and flight demo involving a unique UAV-mounted payload set-up (completed for use at 1:30 am the previous morning by a sensor and payload developer) and that massive wind blade, our team left the EdgeData lab knowing we had just found a perfect future profile feature piece.

Without explaining the whole story here, I will summarize. A team of software developers, data experts, wind energy veterans and an established UAV operations team have all united to advance the ways UAVs are used in the wind energy industry. For more than a year, EdgeData has been working in conjunction with a major wind blade manufacturer and other wind farm managers to both showcase and further develop the ways in which UAVs—and the data collected from their sensors and cameras—can benefit the longevity and economics of a wind tower, blades and eventually the gear box.

When the data experts sat down with the wind veterans and explained everything the UAV could do or had done, we were told the wind veterans were amazed in disbelief. Those early sit-downs usually went longer than expected due the continued series of questions asked by the wind veterans. The wind veterans knew they were at the forefront of a new way of maintaining and monitoring their assets, and that through data collected from UAVs, they could be saving 100’s of thousands of dollars by eliminating the need for blade or tower repairs by catching problems before they got or get to big.

Through the collaboration with the payload and UAV operations team, EdgeData, and the companies they are working with, is quickly becoming one of the great stories in UAS we will all someday cite as an example of how UAVs have changed how major industries operate.

We have just stared working on the EdgeData story. Future photoshoots and additional interviews are also planned. More than likely, we’ll even find ourselves standing in a field under a wind tower watching a UAV overhead take its flight path around and near the blades. To find a great UAS story is not hard, but to find one that includes so many different players working in unison to make great changes to a major industry is very uncommon.