The project aims to develop contact detection and force control methodologies applicable in various industries to ensure safety and reliability. Specifically, it focuses on unleashing the potential of UAVs for power tool maintenance and infrastructure repair. The Drone4Works project will transfer cutting-edge research knowledge in aerial manipulation to drone companies, fostering collaborations and applications to enhance the competitiveness of the Danish drone industry and bridge the gap between research and industry-driven needs.
The Drone4Works project
Several drone companies apply their technologies in inspectional and preventive maintenance. However, the capability of UAVs to perform power tool maintenance and repair of infrastructures is yet to be unleashed. The Drone4Works project will transfer knowledge about the latest research in aerial manipulation to these companies, and it will generate new collaborations and project application that will boost the competitiveness of the Danish drone industry in the European and global scene, filling the gap between the research and industry-driven needs.
The Drone4Works project aims to showcase enabling technologies for deploying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in infrastructure maintenance, particularly focusing on energy infrastructure like wind turbine blade repair and power lines. These technologies have vast business potential, not only within the participating companies' domains but also in addressing critical societal needs related to climate change.
With the growing demand for renewable energy sources, maintaining and extending the operational lifespan of infrastructure is essential. UAVs offer significant benefits for inspection and preventive maintenance. However, their widespread adoption in infrastructure maintenance faces challenges such as limited end-user acceptance, industry knowledge transfer, lack of easily deployable and safe solutions, and the need for higher Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) for market adoption.
This project proposes the deployment of UAVs capable of performing maintenance tasks using power tools. It addresses challenges related to knowledge transfer, safety, and technological readiness. The project will collaborate with industrial partners to create a roadmap for introducing aerial manipulator technology into the maintenance and repair industry, which includes selecting testing facilities, conducting end-user trials, and advancing the technology for future commercial adoption by Danish industries.
The project will demonstrate cutting-edge research in aerial manipulation from DTU and SDU while exploring the technology's feasibility and applicability across various industrial sectors.
Purpose / Vision
A key purpose of the Drone4Works project is knowledge exchange between companies and institutions, which should lead to the identification of knowledge and/or technological gaps that could be addressed in future research and development projects.
Although there is a specific use-case focus for this project, some technological components can be considered generic and suitable for sidestepping to other domains (road infrastructures, rail roads, vessel repair, architecture and building repair, and many more areas). Therefore, the participating companies from the Odense Robotics memberbase will not be exclusively companies focusing on energy asset inspection and maintenance, but also companies in other related domains.
The project will not do direct product development or development of new services within the knowledge institutions.
The key outcomes of this project include enhanced two-way knowledge exchange between companies and educational institutions concerning the potential value and technological opportunities in aerial manipulation technologies for high-altitude tasks. It also fosters new collaborations that hold the potential for future advancements in the Danish drone and robotics industry.
Certain technological components within the project, such as manipulator design and control for tool and object manipulation, are still in the research stage and will require substantial effort to reach a high Technology Readiness Level (TRL). This project will support the application of new knowledge from educational institutions while generating fresh insights into gaps, value creation, and potential application areas, which we hope to address in future collaborations. We anticipate continued collaboration through funding applications for market-focused programs like the Eurostars program.
Furthermore, we expect knowledge transfer to companies through the involvement of at least three MSc projects hosted by our industrial partners.
The University of Southern Denmark (SDU)
Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
The Ministry of Higher Education and Science has financed this project with 650.000 DKK.
Start and finish
The project runs from August 2023 to August 2024.
Do you want to get involved or hear more? Reach out to Ole Georg Andersen.