Latvian Company ‘Aerones’ Uses Drones to Clean Wind Turbines

Cleaning giant wind turbines can cost time, money, and put people's lives at risk. This new drone system aims to alleviate the task.

We recently reported on the Latvian capital of Riga becoming an Eastern European drone hub with local financial backing and enthusiasm for the UAV field in various sectors creating a fertile, nascent drone industry in the area. Now it seems that Aerones, a local company that develops UAVs for delivery, monitoring, firefighting, and rescue scenarios, has successfully developed a wind turbine-cleaning UAV that alleviates time, cost, and risk factors.

According to Mashable, these Aerones drones, used to either defrost or clean the blades of a wind turbine, allow maintenance crews to maximize their time and complete assignments at a much faster pace. We’ve seen this realization come to tangible fruition before with similar business models like Measure’s efficiency-increasing drones deployed at wind-farms. The incentive is crystal clear, of course. Drones are simply far too affordable and technologically sophisticated these days, that for businesses that could potentially benefit from them to dismiss them, simply doesn’t make any financial sense.

Let’s take a look at these wind turbine-cleaning drones in action and hear from CEO Janis Putrams himself.

As you can see, the process here, while fairly high-tech, is pretty basic. A heavy-lifting drone capable of carrying up to 441 pounds is tethered to the ground with both an electrical cable and a water hose, with the former used to power the UAV, while the latter uses ground-based water as the primary cleaning solution. Furthermore, as Putrams explains, supplemental chemicals such as hydrophobic anti-freeze liquids can be added. All of the ground-based equipment, including a take-off and landing platform for the drone, is stationed on a truck or a trailer that is fitted with a generator and a high-pressure pump. 

As Putrams explains in the video, Aerones intends to refine this process with an all-encompassing atomization process as the focus. In any case, small steps like these are already impressive, especially to companies in the wind turbine-cleaning sector that could cut costs by using this new, nascent system. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on these seemingly minor developments, as they’re sure to only keep improving upon themselves, and lead to something truly phenomenal.