Surface Damage Detection for Wind Turbines Using Drones

wind turbine inspection with drone

In the renewable energy industry, wind turbines are becoming increasingly important for generating power, and are an invaluable resource for both large and small-scale operations. But as with any technology, wind turbines can suffer from wear and tear due to harsh weather conditions, which can affect their performance and efficiency. That’s why it’s important to be able to detect potential damage and take corrective action before it becomes a major issue. One way to do this is by using drones to detect surface damage.  

Drones are becoming increasingly popular for a variety of applications, from photography to surveying, and they can be used to detect surface damage on wind turbines. By equipping drones with automated drone flight planning, advanced imaging technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms, they can be used as an efficient tool for surface damage detection of wind turbines.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the benefits of using drones for surface damage detection and the technology involved in their use. 


Drone Automation and Flight Planning  

One of the key aspects of using drones for surface damage detection is that it can be done quickly and efficiently with minimal human intervention. This is possible thanks to automated flight planning and navigation software. Automated flight planning software simplifies the process of drone flight planning by allowing operators to specify a flight path, altitude, speed, and other parameters with just a few clicks. This makes it easy to quickly inspect multiple turbines in a single flight without having to manually program each one.

In addition to automated flight planning software, AI and machine learning can be used to further optimize a drone’s flight path by analyzing weather conditions and avoiding obstacles. This allows drones to fly more efficiently while also ensuring that they are able to capture accurate data. 

Benefits of Using Drones for Surface Damage Detection  

Drones have many benefits over the traditional approaches outlined above, including the elimination of human hazards, a 70% reduction in testing time, and the avoidance of the need to close down windmills for extended periods of time as is necessary with human assessments. 


Improved Safety 

Drones allow operators to inspect turbines without putting personnel at risk. This is especially important in hazardous conditions such as high winds or extreme temperatures. 

Improved safety also means addressing the different functionalities of drones that would address various issues without putting human lives in danger. For instance, when it comes to surface damage detection, there are certain features that you will want to consider when choosing a drone. You will also want to make sure that the drone is equipped with high-quality sensors to detect even the smallest signs of damage on the surface of the turbine. This relieves the human inspection team from the duty of physically accessing sites under challenging conditions.  


Increased Cost Savings 

Drones can reduce labor costs associated with manual inspections and reduce travel expenses since they can be operated remotely from anywhere in the world. The automated drone flight planning system ensures that the drone follows a pre-defined flight path, enabling it to capture images from all angles and at different heights. This helps to identify potential defects in hard-to-reach areas that may not be visible from the ground. Moreover, the AI and ML algorithms help to identify any anomalies in the data collected by drones, further reducing costly errors. 


Minimized Downtime 

Drones can quickly detect potential surface damage on wind turbines so that corrective action can be taken before it becomes an issue, helping to minimize downtime and keep operations running smoothly.  They can quickly cover a large area and collect high-resolution images of the turbines’ surface. The images can then be analyzed to detect any signs of damage or wear. The systems can be further enhanced with thermal cameras to detect temperature variations in the turbine’s components. The improved accuracy and speed surpass the capabilities of human personnel, eliminating any associated delays. 



Drone automation is revolutionizing the way we inspect wind turbines. AI-driven drone solutions are now being used to probe these structures efficiently, ensuring reliability while keeping workers safe from hazardous conditions on-site. This innovative approach not only lessens maintenance costs but also reduces downtime, paving the way for endless possibilities in renewable energy inspection processes. As drone technology continues to advance, we can expect this type of inspection to become even more efficient and reliable in the future. 

Discover how SkyGrid is revolutionizing the way surface damage detection for wind turbines is managed. With drones and cutting-edge technology, explore what makes this process a safer reality by visiting us now! 

Smart Drone Flight Planning with SkyGrid Flight Control

Smart Drone Flight Planning

At SkyGrid, we set out to simplify the flight planning process with more automation and efficiency.  

Our free SkyGrid Flight Control app provides a complete solution to automatically generate area sweeps and waypoint missions based on flight parameters, such as desired speed, altitude, and location. Drone operators can also generate flight plans to meet multiple mission objectives, such as area exploration missions over two or more defined areas. The burden typically falls on drone operators to manually plan and execute their flights, but it’s often a laborious, time-consuming process. Our mission planner eliminates the manual workflows by automating drone flight planning and autonomously executing the mission. 

Check out the quick overview from our team and read on for more details:  

The types of missions drone operators can plan 

SkyGrid Flight Control automatically generates mission plans based on the drone operator’s flight parameters, such as start and end time, desired speed, altitude, and location. In the SkyGrid Flight Control app, the following types of mission objectives are available for the operator to choose from. 

Path Missions 

Our path missions enable drone pilots to generate routes that follow a series of sequential, operator-defined waypoints that the drone will autonomously execute. The path missions could be useful for a wide variety of missions across inspections, public safety, security, and more. For example, operators can generate a path mission to surveil a perimeter around a high-security building, monitor swimmers along a beach shoreline, or inspect thousands of miles of oil and gas pipelines.  

During drone flight planning, operators can choose to have the drone auto-land at the end of the path or return home after the mission is complete.  

Drone Flight Planning - Path Objective

Free Flight Missions 

Our app also offers free flight capabilities, enabling operators to create flight boundaries where they can freely operate their drone. Free Flight missions are defined areas in which an operator can manually fly or choose to request LAANC only. This could be beneficial for commercial operators, especially when the area is less defined. For example, emergency responders using drones for fire protection, response, and reconnaissance, can set up a free flight mission around a designated area to detect people, vehicles, or animals in distress with our AI computer vision. The free flight capabilities allow them to concentrate on the most damaged areas within the response area in real-time. Free flight missions can also benefit recreational drone pilots, as it allows pilots to get LAANC in controlled airspace without requiring a flight plan.

Drone Flight Planning - Free Flight Objective

Area Exploration Missions 

Our area exploration missions are a series of parallel sweeps, or route paths, within a defined area that the drone will autonomously execute. This capability enables drone operators to automatically generate sweep missions to surveil a defined area. Based on their objectives, operators can specify the altitude they want to fly, the mission speed, and the distance between sweeps. For example, in search and rescue (SAR) situations, gathering rapid situational awareness is crucial; drone operators conducting a search and rescue mission may opt for 40-foot sweeps to ensure no area is left unchecked, while an operator surveilling a construction site may select 110-foot sweeps to get a high-level view of construction progress. 

Drone Flight Planning - Area Exploration Objective

Multi-Objective Missions 

Lastly, drone operators can create more complex mission plans with multiple objectives. For example, in the event of a traffic incident, law enforcement agencies could generate a path mission to the incident and combine it with an area exploration mission to gather situational awareness before emergency teams arrive. 

Drone Flight Planning - Multiple Objectives

Why use SkyGrid for drone flight planning? 

With flight operations, we simplify the dynamic airspace by enabling drone operators to automatically plan and execute optimal flight paths with AI-based route planning and deconfliction from other aircraft and obstacles. 

Based on your mission objectives, SkyGrid Flight Control will automatically generate a flight plan and autonomously execute the mission. Once a flight plan has been saved, operators can repeat the mission as often as needed. This simplifies routine inspections and surveillance missions that are conducted on a regular basis. 


Download SkyGrid Flight Control for free in the Apple App Store or learn more about our advanced enterprise features.