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Analysis & Insight

Autonomous Systems in O&M: Removing the Barriers to BVLOS Operations

Published 10 January 2019

Robotics and autonomous systems have a key role to play in helping the offshore wind, wave and tidal sectors meet ambitious cost reduction, energy generation, and production targets.

While systems such as unmanned aerial vehicles and remotely-operated vehicles are already in use, performing tasks like turbine blade inspections and subsea surveys, they are currently unable to operate fully autonomously. It is recognised, however, that the introduction of systems that can operate beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) could further unlock safety and cost benefits for the industry. For this to happen, a number of challenges must be overcome.

This paper, by Tony Fong, explores the three types of robotic systems currently in use and being developed for use in offshore renewable energy O&M, identifies the key barriers to their wider exploitation as autonomous systems, and offers recommendations on how to address and enable their full potential.