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Marine-i runs Discovery Room event on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones) for Offshore Asset Inspection

Image - Tony Fong (ORE Catapult) explains how UAVs could support offshore asset inspection

 On 25th June, Marine-I ran a Discovery Room event on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones) for Offshore Asset Inspection.

The UK Government’s Industrial Strategy is encouraging businesses to step up to the mark and embrace autonomous systems – robotics and artificial intelligence. As part of the drive to help SMEs master this technology, Marine-i partner, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, ran a follow up to its Autonomous Systems Discovery Room in 2017 looking at how Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones) are increasingly being used for Offshore Asset Inspection.

Hosted by Nick Weston of Weston Aviation at the Business Aviation Centre at Cornwall’s Newquay airport, the event was attended by local businesses with an interest in UAVs. The keynote speaker, James Fairbairn (Business Engagement Manager at AeroSpace Cornwall) described how being based in an Enterprise Zone enabled the AeroSpace Hub Research Development & Innovation project to forge links with key academic institutions and businesses to increase activities in Aerospace, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), and Space - including upstream and downstream technologies.

Presenters Tony Fong, UAV Pilot and Project Engineer, and Owen Murphy, Turbine Project Engineer, (both at ORE Catapult) described the growth in offshore wind and the intricacies of the maintenance processes needed to keep the blades turning and the electricity generating. Autonomous systems provide an opportunity to undertake some offshore maintenance tasks much more quickly without putting human maintenance teams at risk. For example, today inspections of wind turbines are typically carried out by technicians abseiling up and down the blades.  In future this task may be carried out in a fraction of the time by robotic blade crawlers or sophisticated drones with high spec cameras.

In a recent report by PwC, it was forecast that, by 2030, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones will be worth a massive £42 billion to the UK economy and will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. The marine technology and marine renewables industries are set to become leading customers for this fast-evolving new technology. Marine-i partner ORE Catapult can help SMEs understand more about these opportunities and will be pleased to discuss your ideas for developing technology for supporting offshore asset inspection. Please contact Simon Cheeseman on 07834 347 250 or email simon.cheeseman@ore.catapult.org.uk