After a year of planning and preparation, the EdgeData℠ team returned to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) annual WINDPOWER Conference and Exhibition in Anaheim. Visitors and exhibitors from around the world attended the event.
This year’s WINDPOWER conference was focused on the future of wind energy. With major companies like GM, Amazon, Microsoft and Walmart investing in renewable wind energy, our industry is positioned for rapid growth through 2020 and beyond.
As the industry grows, so will the need for big data solutions, actionable intelligence and comprehensive blade management programs. AWEA WINDPOWER 2017 allowed the EdgeData team to forge connections with many key industry leaders and share our game-changing and commercially available BladeEdgeSM software.
Conference-goers Wowed by BladeEdge Demos
The EdgeData team came to AWEA WINDPOWER 2016 as rookies – a new brand with new ideas. We introduced the BladeEdge prototype and established ourselves as industry thought leaders.
This year’s conference was once again busy and exciting. The market in Anaheim for AWEA WINDPOWER 2017 understands that these emerging technologies can add value in their operations and maintenance.
We were proud to provide live demos of our BladeEdge software. After advancing the prototype version into a production environment in the past year, we made BladeEdge commercially available, and seeing the software in action turned a lot of heads.
During the demos, conference-goers noted the incredible value of expert UAS or drone inspections that utilize modern big data management practices with artificial intelligence to provide actionable intelligence. Instead of spending hours reviewing thousands of blade inspection images, clients can leverage BladeEdge Analytics to pinpoint damaged or worn areas on the blade – and because BladeEdge captures and tracks data over time, the software is quickly becoming an essential tool in lifecycle management. It sets the foundation for blade management programs.
The wind industry is one of the nation’s fastest growing industries, as corporations and consumers alike strive to use reliable, clean energy.
Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA shared many industry trends that will keep wind power on track to generate 10% of our nation’s electricity by 2020, noting “big data and artificial intelligence are converging with storage to smooth intermittency and maximize output.”
INTRODUCING THE BLADEEDGE CAPTURE ASSISTANCE TOOL (BECAT)
The UAS industry is still very young, so developing a means of capturing accurate data reliably and at scale is essential. That’s why we developed the BladeEdge Capture Assistance Tool (BECAT). BECAT was designed specifically for use in the field and ensures that every drone captures quality imagery every time. This is a critical tool that enables the planned migration from manual flights to fully autonomous flights for BladeEdge.
After completing an inspection, pilots can verify the data on a laptop, double checking to be sure no square inch is left uninspected. BECAT levels the playing field. Whether an inspector has been flying for years, just getting started or eventually flying autonomous, they’ll always leave the field with the data they need to provide a quality inspection. With BECAT and other field work, BladeEdge has taken a large step toward UAV flight automation.
The tool also packages the imagery for processing by BladeEdge Analytics’s deep learning algorithms. This reduces a technician’s time to complete an inspection of images from 2-3 hours to 2-3 MINUTES, and greatly reduces the opportunity for human error. That means BladeEdge customers have a complete, high-resolution, close-up image of their infrastructure that highlights anomalies or areas of concern.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR BLADEEDGE?
We have quite a few things on the planned roadmap. Our current projects include:
- Developing best practices for UAS blade inspection flights with Oak Ridge National Laboratory: An Early Survey of Best Practices for the Use of Small Unmanned Aerial Systems by the Electric Utility Industry
- Continuing to work toward automated flight with BECAT and field development with emerging technologies that scale
- Training the next generation of UAS or drone enabled turbine blade inspectors through a partnership with Lake Region State College in North Dakota
Most importantly, we are working with many companies to develop strong, successful Blade Management Programs. BladeEdge offers more than a process for single inspections. We provide a software solution that allows for better management, increased efficiency and prolongs the lifespan of your blades.