Accelerating data-driven, sustainable, offshore renewable energy growth through a network of residents robotics.
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.
Our mission is to provide safe, efficient inspection services for offshore wind farms using resident autonomous UAVs, optimising operations and maintenance with reliable data whilst enabling sustainable industry growth.
Changing the way you see
A ground-breaking ecosystem of multiple resident autonomous Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Lilypad utilises artificial intelligence and navigational sensors to create a world-leading integrated capability, providing dynamic and on-demand offshore inspection services.
Consistent and reliable data collection and analytics for scalable inspections
Fully UK CAA certified end-to-end service integrated into operations
Permanently deployed highly automated drone system
Task based BVLOS command and control
High resolution payloads including inspection camera and LiDAR with edge processing
Automated environment recognition / navigation / avoidance
High reliability / minimised maintenance by design
Remote deployment of software for functional updates / patches
Multiple UAVs to be monitored simultaneously by a single remote pilot
Versatile modular technology that can be readily upgraded to support future innovations
Reimagining Inspection Delivery
Delivering operational, economic and environmental benefits to revolutionise the way operators monitor and maintain offshore assets to maximise wind farm performance.
• Maximises wind turbine uptime to support ambitious 2030 and 2050 government targets
• Resident UAVs exploit inspection opportunities throughout the year whilst reducing human exposure to operations
• Scheduled and on-demand inspections with high-quality, consistent data collection and analytics
• Maximises wind turbine revenue generation
• Reduces costs of Crew Transfer Vessel (CTV) and Operations & Maintenance workforce
• Reduces cost of repairs and maximises through-life earnings through early identification of faults
• Reduces carbon emissions associated with CTV voyages
• Supports a preventative rather than corrective maintenance strategy reducing environmental impact
• Future capability for environmental monitoring and surveillance of critical national infrastructure
An Expert Network
World-leading System Integration
• Lilypad system architect
• Design, manufacture and test of deployed infrastructure
• CAA authorised flight operator
• Data capture and analytics
Cutting Edge UAV Design
• Designs, builds and operates UAVs
• Resilient, BVLOS capable UAV
• Onboard data processing
• UAV payload integration
State-of-the-art BVLOS Software
• Most advanced UK CAA authorisation for BVLOS operations
• Highly autonomous navigation and collision avoidance capability
• Fully autonomous inspection capability
• Ground breaking technology pushing regulatory boundaries
How it works?
Powering the offshore wind industry with cutting-edge robotics and data.
1. Customer Set Up
Working collaboratively with customers, an offshore survey will be completed to determine the size of the operation and the optimum layout of the offshore infrastructure, specialist contractors will then install and commission all equipment, ready for service.
2. Customer Interface Portal
All customer inspection requirements and schedules are loaded into a Lilypad Customer Interface Portal. This is a web-based application where long-term inspection schedules can be loaded and ad-hoc requests can be submitted. Inspection status can be monitored with progress reports available to customers via the portal.
3. Onshore Ground Control Station
Schedules and requests that have been loaded onto the Lilypad Customer Interface Portal will be received by the Ground Control Station and used to generate the Lilypad mission plans. The dedicated Operations Team will create the mission plans based on external factors such as weather, other air-users and further windfarm activities.
4. Satellite Communication (SATCOM)
A secure, persistent and weatherproof SATCOM link provides continuous communication between onshore and offshore Lilypad assets, with BVLOS data links enabling command and control of the Lilypad inspection UAV and enclosure.
5. Inspection UAV
The permanently-deployed Lilypad inspection UAV is then launched and flown by the remote pilot to the required turbine to complete the automated inspection task. The Lilypad inspection UAV can cover a range of approximately 15km with an average flight time of 45 minutes. The Lilypad inspection UAV will utilise GNSS, LiDAR and AI to fly an optimised route for inspection completion. Safety, reliability and availability is ensured through rugged back-up systems and is recognised by CAA authorisation.
6. Rapid Recharge
Throughout the tasking the Lilypad inspection UAV will hop between the installed Lilypad enclosures where a battery swapping mechanism enables rapid recharging to complete the task. During this quick turnaround time the Lilypad inspection UAV will also offload inspection data as well as complete pre and post-flight checks before taking off again.
7. Final Docking
Upon completion of the maintenance task, the Lilypad inspection UAV will dock in the final Lilypad enclosure. Data is then downloaded within the enclosure and securely transferred back to the Ground Control Station via the secure SATCOM link.
8. Data Analytics
Inspection image data is processed using a state-of-the-art, industrially proven, data analytics tool which consists of blade inspection experts and AI-enabled damage recognition software. Bespoke customer inspection reports are then created.
9. Inspection Results and Insights
All customer inspection reports are uploaded onto the Customer Interface Portal (and also provided in PDF format) for the customer to access, analyse and plan next steps.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the concept of operations?
Lilypad is intended to be operated 'as-a-service', outputting inspection data insights to customers in an industry standard format. One of the main objectives of Lilypad is to remove all operational burden from the wind farm owner / operator, therefore the Lilypad Operations Team will be responsible for installation and commissioning through to UAV operations and data acquisition.
This way, customers are free from the management of maintaining a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Approved Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) UAV System, and can focus on their primary objectives.
How do you maintain it?
The deployable infrastructure (the Lilypad enclosure and inspection UAV) will have a minimum maintenance interval of 1 year, with a target maintenance interval of 3 years.
Hardware maintenance will require trained personnel access to the offshore elements for UAV exchange (if damaged) and enclosure inspection and maintenance on-condition. Software/Firmware maintenance can be addressed remotely.
What is the flight time?
Flight time is affected by environmental conditions, with temperature and wind conditions influencing this parameter.
Nominally, the system out of the box will have an anticipated flight capability of 40-50minutes. This is being validated as part of our planned testing. Battery technology and capacity is constantly evolving and Futureworx anticipates iteratively exploiting this through managed updates.
How long does it take to inspect a blade?
The exact duration depends of the size for the turbine. As an example the target for a 7MW turbine, with 75metre blades, is to complete a turbine inspection (i.e. all 4 aspects of all three blades) within 15minutes.
What is the number of inspection UAVs and enclosures required per wind farm?
Offshore hardware is tailored to each wind farm based on a number of factors;
- number of turbines
- distance between turbines and their general arrangement
- the time period in which the client seeks to complete 100% of routine inspections
As a rough guide, the UAV will usually be able to fly up to 10km to a turbine from its enclosure, complete a turbine inspection, and return to its enclosure. During customer set up the Lilypad Operations Team will determine how many inspection UAVs and enclosures are required to achieve the most optimum and cost efficient inspection mapping.
What are the dimensions of the enclosure and how much does it weigh?
The prototype enclosure undergoing testing is L2m x W2m x H0.8m and weighs 350kg.
Various antenna are mounted on the upper surface, including SATCOM Radomes. In take-off and landing configurations, the enclosure door opens and the landing pad extends, increasing the length dimension to 3.5m.
How scalable is it?
In short, The Lilypad eco-system is very scalable. A single Lilypad Remote Pilot can task and monitor multiple inspection UAVs, and without Crew Transfer Vessel (CTV) transportation costs, emissions or time.
Lilypad infrastructure is agnostic of distance from shore and does not scale linearly with the number of turbines. Labour and carbon costs do not increase with transfer times between shore and wind farm, making Lilypad ideal for windfarms in further offshore, deeper waters. This is a fundamental difference to incumbent inspection techniques.
Can I see a demonstration?
We are scheduled to host customer / industry demonstrations later this year, once system testing has concluded. Expressions of interest for system demonstrations are encouraged so please fill out your details in the link below to stay up-to-date with all Lilypad developments and we will be delighted to host you at a demostration.
Where does it deliver value?
Lilypad was created to offer economic, sustainable and operational value. To summarise Lilypad offers the following:
- A more scaleable approach compared to incumbent inspection techniques (VLOS UAV inspections and Rope Access inspections), particularly as wind farms move further from shore
- Removing personnel from dangerous working environments
- Reducing offshore boat transport miles, supporting low carbon O&M activity
- Maximising wind turbine uptime by dynamically scheduling maintenance inspections around particular weather conditions, whilst also providing the option to fulfil immediate ad-hoc maintenance inspections
If you would like to discuss the value that Lilypad can deliver in more detail, please use the link below and one of her subject matter experts will be in touch.
Are there any other use cases within the wind farm?
The system as-configured out of the box can be used to undertake ad-hoc surveillance tasks, perimeter surveillance and general at-range inspections.
Going forwards, the inspection UAV utilises a modular construction with an ability to carry alternative sensor payloads. This could range from hyperspectral imaging of structures, to sub-sea bathymetry and beyond. The AI Navigation Software can be modified to perfom other functions such as automated recognition of other objects and features and to perform alternative automated inspection routines supplemental to blade related activity. We encourage feedback from customers on other use cases so they can be included in the Lilypad System Scope of Operations for CAA Approval.
Identifying additional uses for Lilypad is logical and supported by Futureworx. We are always pleased to discuss whether the Lilypad system can perform additional value-added acitivties so please get in touch if you have any additional requirements.