Bristol turbine inspection firm reaps the wild winds of Scotland to perfect its drone-based system

November 10, 2023

A pioneering autonomous drone system developed by Bristol specialist inspections firm Perceptual Robotics has reached the landmark of inspecting more than 250 onshore wind turbines in Scotland.

The Perceptual Robotics team has travelled across Scotland from Skye to Aberdeen for the past six years conducting the inspections for a range of clients.

This has safeguarded a significant number of turbines from critical damage failure thanks to the firm’s system, which backs up the autonomous drones with AI.

Those turbines that are damaged can be assessed and repaired quickly.

The firm was launched in 2016 by Kostas Karachalios, Dimitris Nikolaidis and Kevin Driscoll-Lind – now CEO, chief operating officer and chief technical officer respectively – after they met at the University of Bristol.

They incubated the technology at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory before moving to the Future Space innovation hub on UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus.

The firm’s Dhalion drone and AI enables fully automated and rapid inspection of wind turbine blades using AI-driven image processing technology that detects any damage such as erosion or cracks in less than 20 minutes.

After landing, an artificial intelligence system automatically processes the images to detect any damage and quickly provides clients with all the information they need to carry out preventive maintenance, dramatically reducing turbine downtime, increasing safety and cutting costs.

Its achievements in Scotland have provided the company with invaluable experience in diverse locations and varying weather conditions, boosting its ability to adapt its technology to hazardous situations.

Kostas Karachalios said: “Scotland holds a pivotal place for us, being home to an extensive number of onshore wind farms and operators.

“The constantly changing weather conditions provide us with shifting challenges, keeping us alert and offering excellent opportunities to showcase the robustness of Dhalion.

“Despite the distance from our Bristol headquarters, we always feel at home in Scotland. We look forward to continuing to grow our work there and helping our Scottish clients keep their wind turbines in optimal condition, enabling them to promptly identify and address any damages and reduce operational costs.”

The firm has a dedicated team north of the border which includes business development manager Derek Rutherford.

Its presence in Scotland extends well beyond wind farm inspections. It is committed to supporting local communities and has recently sponsored a youth football team in Bannockburn.

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