Internal Wind Turbine Blade Inspections using UAVs: Analysis and Design Issues

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Interior and exterior wind turbine blade inspections are necessary to extend the lifetime of wind turbine generators. The use of unmanned vehicles is an alternative to exterior wind turbine blade inspections performed by technicians that require the use of cranes and ropes. Interior wind turbine blade inspections are even more challenging due to the confined spaces, lack of illumination, and the presence of potentially harmful internal structural components. Additionally, the cost of manned interior wind turbine blade inspections is a major limiting factor. This paper analyses all aspects of the viability of using manually controlled or autonomous aerial vehicles for interior wind turbine blade inspections. We discuss why the size, weight, and flight time of a vehicle, in addition to the structure of the wind turbine blade, are the main limiting factors in performing internal blade inspections. We also describe the design issues that must be considered to provide autonomy to unmanned vehicles and the control system, the sensors that can be used, and introduce some of the algorithms for localization, obstacle avoidance and path planning that are best suited for the task. Lastly, we briefly describe which non-destructive test instrumentation can be used for the purpose.
Original languageEnglish
Article number294
Issue number2
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Autonomy
  • Indoors UAV
  • UAV
  • Wind turbine blade
  • Wind turbine inspection


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