In a ‘world first,’ autonomous giant drones are flying cargo to offshore wind turbines

Ørsted says it’s now the world’s first offshore wind company to use autonomous giant drones to transport cargo to turbines.

Ørsted is trialing the 128-pound (58 kg) drones at the UK’s Hornsea 1 offshore wind farm. They have a wingspan of 8.5 feet (2.6 meters) and can transport cargo weighing up to 150 pounds (68 kg).

The cargo is contained in an orange bag, and then it’s attached to the drone using a long cord, so the bag hangs far beneath the drone. The drone flies through the air with the cargo, places it on a wind turbine’s platform high in the air, and then releases the long cord along with the bag.

Ørsted said delivering cargo to Hornsea 1 using these drones will reduce costs and save time and also improve operational safety and efficiency. The drones minimize the need for multiple journeys by ship, reducing emissions, and it also means that wind turbines don’t have to be shut down when cargo is delivered.

The drones are being operated from existing crew transfer vessels (CTVs) and service operating vessels (SOVs) that are already onsite at Hornsea 1.

While Ørsted doesn’t explicitly name the drone company it’s working with in today’s announcement, it’s Skylift, a UK-based commercial drone operator that specializes in offshore wind farms.

The 1.2-gigawatt Hornsea 1 offshore wind farm in the North Sea features 174 7-megawatt wind turbines that generate enough clean energy to power over 1 million UK homes.

Check out a drone in action at Hornsea 1 in this video that Ørsted posted earlier today:

Read more: In an industry first, artificial ‘bird nests’ have been built near an offshore wind farm

Photo: Ørsted

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