Drones may have the potential to be annoying – for example stalker drones – or dangerous, such as the recent instance of a crashing drone causing a massive forest fire, but they are also able to perform many tasks people would probably prefer not to do. Maneuvering in tight spaces for ship ballast or pipeline inspection, or carrying out hazardous cleaning operations, such as underwater, or on electricity pylons, wind turbines and oil rigs – these are jobs that present some element of risk to humans.
Aerones, a dronemaker company based in Latvia, have now developed a heavy-lifting drone that they say is capable of lifting a whopping 100kg that is initially intended for cleaning and de-icing of wind turbines. The company also sees potential for a number of different applications though, including sports applications – last year to demonstrate the lifting ability of their drones, they published a video of what they claim was the world’s first “drone jump”.
While we admit this is a pretty novel use for large scale drones, Aerones aren’t the only heavy dronemaker out there. There’s quite a few heavy duty drones being developed, such as the supply drones being developed to battle bad weather in Norway, or the cargo drone being developed by Boeing that can lift 225kg.
What is different about Aerones is that their drones are connected to the ground with a power cable and water hose. With the ability to lift up to 100kg of weight, CEO Jānis Putrāms explains the thinking behind this is a recent Youtube video. “The electricity cable is used to power of a drone so the drone can stay in the air for as long as needed.”
“On the ground there is a truck or trailer that has all necessary equipment, there is no need to connect anything to the wind turbine, so the truck would have the landing and takeoff platform for the drone, it would have electricity generator for the ground and it would have a high pressure pump.”
And should something happen to the power cable? Putrāms explains that first and foremost, Aerones is concerned with safety.
“When working on the drone we have thought a lot about safety. There are many redundancy options built-in. There is actually no single point of failure which means that any part of the drone is allowed to fail and we could still land safely,” Putrāms said. “The power for the drone is provided with a cable but there are also batteries on the drone and if something happens to the cable, the drone would still be able to answer safely.”
Aerones’ current plan is not to sell the drones, but to offer a cleaning service for wind turbines. In the future though, the drone could also be used for extinguishing fires, such as in industrial plants, or cleaning skyscrapers – and performing rescue operations, underlining its life-saving potential.
Putrāms concluded, “There are so many different other applications for a drones. One is fire fighting, another is human rescue, and also many sports application right now we plan to start with cleaning and the de-icing of wind turbines because we have the technology and we really see the benefit that we can bring. We are very excited about this project and we think that we can bring more safety, more speed and more cost efficiency for wind turbine cleaning and de-icing.”