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AEROS: Autonomous Wind Turbine Inspection

Funded by Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad



The objective of the AEROS project is the development of methods to inspect Wind Turbine structures, specially the blades. This inspection is meant to be done autonomously either from the ground or with the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) equipped with 6 or 8 propellers and with the wind turbine in use.

These periodic inspections of the blades will be made with static and moving configurations of the blades using optical sensors such as, RGB or IR cameras and/or lasers autonomously. This inspection will yield information neccessary for reconstruction of the inspected area in case of needing maintenance. The following sections will explain the results obtained by the CVG group in the tasks appointed for each milestone.


Results of Milestone 1

In the first milestone of the AEROS project, simulation in Gazebo of the UAV to be used for real inspection and the environment was begun. The first steps of the simulation included the UAV response to constant wind forces and wind gusts to simulate the forces encountered during inspection of the windmill.

  1. Constant Wind Simulation
  2. Wind Gust Simulation

The next step was integrating a model of a wind turbine to get an idea of the scale of the problem. The model of the wind turbine used is a generic one due to the fact that the exact design of the one used for real inspection is undetermined. Images below show the UAV and wind turbine models used in the next phases to validate trayectory control strategies.




Results of Milestone 2

In milestone 2 of the AEROS project several control system designs were implemented. These control systems were designed for velocity and trayectory control of the UAV in Matlab/Simulink.  The objective of these control strategies is to obtain reliable control of the system when facing environmental factors that can affect the trayectory commanded to the UAV. Many external factors exist such as changes in aerodynamics, modelling errors, changes in the environment or changes in the model during flight.

As well as designing the control systems in Matlab/Simulink, the results were simulated in the Gazebo environment. This environment was used to integrate the flight dynamics and the wind model of the turbine developed by CENER.

  • Generated Trajectory Simulation

In the following images the different simulation scenarios taken into acount are presented. These include cases of zero wind, constant wind and the integration of the turbulences in wind modeled by CENER.To generate the possible flight and inspection paths the software Matlab was used. The generated trajectories are conical and helical around the blade based on two possible inspection scenarios, vertical blade (where the blade of the windmill is held vertically downward) and horizontal blade (where the blade remains to one side of the turbine while it is inspected).

The generated paths take into account the UAVs dimensions and the measurement of a generic wind turbine model that was used for simulation. In addition to this a safe distance to the blades was maintained in order to detect the defects in the blades. The exact distance from the blade that is needed for safe flight and optimal detection is not known because the characteristics of the cameras to be used in a real flight are not yet determined.


  • Development of L1 Adaptive Control

An Adaptive L1 controller was developed for velocity control of the UAV in the internal control loop. Several scenarios were tested in the Matlab software to validate the robustness of the controller when changes are applied in the mass and in the model of the system. 

  • Simulation Results Gazebo
  1. Static Blade Configuration

  3. Moving Blade Configuration



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