Autonomous Robots for Inspection of Floating Wind Farms Pass First Tests Offshore Portugal

The ATLANTIS project, led by INESC TEC, with the participation of EDP NEW and the support of other technological partners, has completed the first round of tests with autonomous robots on a floating offshore wind platform in Portugal.

The demonstration took place at Ocean Winds’ WindFloat Atlantic, the world’s first semi-submersible floating offshore wind farm, which features three turbines and has a capacity of 25.4 MW, enough to generate energy for 25,000 families a year.

The team tested the use of robots for inspection and monitoring operations. Specifically, using autonomous vehicles was demonstrated for visual and thermographic inspections and assessments of the structure using multi-domain maps, said INESC TEC.

“This is a significant accomplishment, not only because we were the first in the world to demonstrate robots operating autonomously and simultaneously in a pre-commercial floating wind farm but also because we have opened the doors for robotics and artificial intelligence to play a leading role in inspecting and maintaining this type of critical infrastructure,” said Andry Maykol Pinto, a researcher at INESC TEC and professor at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP).

RAVEN and NAUTILUS are two examples of the autonomous robotic solutions available at the Atlantis Test Center, which is a test platform set up in Viana do Castelo, Portugal.

The center was created as part of the ATLANTIS project to demonstrate autonomous robotic technologies and solutions (underwater, surface, and aerial) that are essential for the inspection and maintenance of offshore wind farms, INESC TEC said.

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The two autonomous robotic solutions can be used for aerial and underwater inspection tasks of several components, namely the mooring lines, the foundations, the floating structure, and the wind turbine.

RAVEN, a drone capable of making, for example, visual, thermal, and three-dimensional representations of the entire turbine, and NAUTILUS, an autonomous vessel that is equipped for multi-domain inspection and monitoring.

“The use of autonomous vehicles is expected to lower Operations and Maintenance (O&M) expenses by 20% while also improving energy production reliability,” said João Formiga, Director of Renewable Energy Technologies at EDP NEW.

The milestone has been reached at a time when Portugal is preparing to start phased auctions as part of its plan to reach 10 GW of offshore wind capacity.


This summer, an inter-ministerial working group, set up by the Portuguese government as part of the process of organising the country’s first offshore wind tender, proposed putting the areas out to tender in phases, with three areas totalling 3.5 GW to be offered this year, through one or more competitive procedures, and for the remaining capacity to be allocated in subsequent phases until 2030, reaching 10 GW.

The three areas that the group pinpointed for the first tender(s) are located in Viana do Castelo (1 GW), Leixões (500 MW), and Figueira da Foz (2 GW).


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