Marshall : The ground-breaking new system, Lilypad, is an ecosystem of multiple autonomous BVLOS UAVs which utilise artificial intelligence and navigational sensors to provide dynamic and on-demand offshore inspection services – revolutionising the way operators are able to monitor real-time performance of their wind farms.
The UAVs are deployed from dedicated offshore charging stations and monitored by a single remote pilot stationed in an onshore command and control centre. Vital inspection data and reports are then transmitted back to the wind farm operators, enabling faster, more frequent, reliable and predictive maintenance scheduling and more effective utilisation of assets.
The UK already has the world’s second largest installed offshore wind capacity at around 12 GW and is a key component of the UK Government’s net zero strategy, with an ambitious target of achieving 50 GW installed capacity by 2030 and potentially more than 100 GW by 2050. As Government and industry continues to advance the UK offshore wind capability, new and scalable technologies such as Lilypad are required to inspect, maintain and ensure the efficiency of wind turbines while also minimising costs to energy users.
Lilypad reduces the requirement for offshore personnel undertaking inspections, minimising both cost and impact on the environment. At the same time, the improved frequency and quality of intelligence operators gain through Lilypad’s remote inspections will enable them to significantly increase wind turbine up time and extend their overall lifecycle.
Marshall Futureworx Managing Director, Kieren Paterson explains: “The ever increasing demand for secure and renewable energy to power our communities has resulted in the surging need for innovative solutions to enable the installation and support of offshore wind infrastructure, right from initial construction and through the life of projects.
Leveraging our demonstrated talent for integrating leading technologies and providing support services to customers operating in demanding and regulated environments, we are excited to share the first of these products – Lilypad, an offshore windfarm inspection service that provides truly scalable inspection capacity to support the significant growth and increasing remoteness of offshore windfarms.
Lilypad uses permanently resident autonomous UAVs allowing us to provide on-demand and scheduled inspections timed to minimise the economic impact on windfarm operations. Lilypad decouples the cost of inspection from sea state, distance from shore and seasonal considerations and eliminates the need for offshore personnel during inspections.”
The announcement from Futureworx, experts in complex system development and integration, follows on from the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2022 with ISS Aerospace who offer best in class industrial UAVs and sees.ai with their leading AI drone guidance and control software.
“ISS Aerospace is delighted to have been appointed by Marshall Futureworx to provide a derivative of our Sensus ML8-XP UAV for the Lilypad ecosystem. The Sensus family of UAVs has seen considerable buy-in from our defence, security and energy clients and seen operations worldwide. ISS provides highly innovative, customer requirement focused solutions which deliver on-board multi-modal sensor integration to deliver intelligence solutions at the highest tempo.” Said Ryan Kempley, ISS Aerospace CEO.
“We’re thrilled to be able to reveal more about this project. Not only does it involve deep collaboration with Marshall, one of the UK’s leading aerospace companies; and an exciting opportunity to develop a defensible world-leading product for a huge and rapidly-growing global market; but it also gives us the opportunity to make a substantial impact on one of the most pressing challenges of our time: the transition to net-zero. With this stellar consortium we look forward to pushing the boundaries of what is possible with UAV technology.” Says John McKenna, CEO of sees.ai