Lilypad Offshore

Accelerating data-driven, sustainable offshore renewable energy growth through a network of resident robotics.

“Leveraging our demonstrated talent for integrating leading technologies and providing support services to customers operating in demanding and regulated environments, Lilypad is an ecosystem of resident robotics providing safe and scalable dynamic and on-demand inspection services for offshore wind farm assets.”

Kieren Paterson

Director, Marshall Futureworx

Reimagining inspection delivery

Offshore wind is a key component of the net zero strategies around the world, with an ambitious target of achieving 50 GW installed capacity by 2030 and potentially more than 100 GW by 2050 in the UK alone.

Against this backdrop of burgeoning demand, new and scalable technologies such as Lilypad will prove essential for the growth of offshore wind farm assets.

Lilypad has been designed to provide safe and efficient inspection services for offshore wind farm assets using resident autonomous UAVs, optimising operations and maintenance with reliable data whilst enabling sustainable industry growth.

With operational, economic and environmental benefits, Lilypad is set to revolutionise the way operators monitor and maintain offshore assets to maximise wind farm performance.

Operational benefits

  • Enhances inspection flexibility and availability with scheduled, dynamically optimised and on-demand tasking of resident drones throughout the year
  • Allows remote monitoring of autonomous BVLOS flight operations, reducing O&M personnel requirements and safety risks
  • Enables more frequent inspections, leading to early identification of faults and maximising blade efficiency
  • Provides accurate, informative inspection data through the use of advanced image recognition software and high-quality, consistent analytics
  • Limits operational and cost impact of adding new capacity to existing wind farms, thanks to inherent scalability of Lilypad ecosystem

Economic benefits

  • Maximises wind turbine uptime, sustaining revenue generation
  • Reduces crew transfer vessel (CTV) and operations/maintenance workforce costs
  • Reduces cost of repairs through preventative maintenance

Environmental benefits

  • Supports decarbonisation of O&M and scaling of offshore wind infrastructure in line with ambitious environmental targets
  • 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 power infrastructure

View the full Lilypad Offshore spec sheet

How does it work?

Powering the offshore wind industry with cutting edge robotics and data.

  • Customer setup

    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 to be ready for service.

  • 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 made available to customers via the portal.

  • 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 Lilypad mission plans. The dedicated operations team will create the mission plans based on external factors such as weather, other air users and further wind farm activities.

  • 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.

  • 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 through CAA authorisation.

  • Rapid recharge

    Throughout the tasking, the Lilypad inspection UAV will hop between the installed Lilypad enclosures where a battery swapping mechanism enables rapid recharging. During this quick turnaround time the Lilypad inspection UAV will also offload inspection data as well as completing pre- and post-flight checks before taking off again.

  • Final docking

    Upon completion of the inspection task, the Lilypad UAV will dock in the final enclosure. Data is then downloaded and securely transferred back to the ground control station via the secure SATCOM link.

  • Data analytics

    Inspection image data is processed using a state-of-the-art, industrially proven, data analytics tool which combines blade inspection experts and AI-enabled damage recognition software. Bespoke customer inspection reports are then created.

  • 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

  • How long does it take to inspect a blade?

    The exact duration depends on the size of the turbine. As an example, the target for a 7MW turbine, with 75 metre blades, is to complete a turbine inspection (including all four aspects of all three blades) within 15 minutes.

  • 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
    • 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 an enclosure. During customer setup, the Lilypad operations team will determine how many inspection UAVs and enclosures are required to achieve the optimal and most cost-efficient inspection mapping of wind farm assets.

  • 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.

    The inspection UAV utilises a modular construction, giving it the ability to carry alternative sensor payloads. This could range from hyperspectral imaging of structures to sub-sea bathymetry and beyond. The AI navigational software can be modified to perform additional functions such as automated recognition of other objects and features, and to perform alternative automated inspection routines supplementary to blade related activity.

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