Black Swift Unveils Aerial System for Turbine Inspection


Black Swift Technologies (BST), a specialized engineering firm based in Boulder, Colo., says the Black Swift E2 UAS, an American-made, advanced unmanned aerial system (UAS) specifically designed for automated industrial and structural inspections, is now available.

Its advanced navigation enables the Black Swift E2 to conduct highly accurate, up-close inspections of infrastructure in extreme environmental conditions. Utilizing advances in computer vision and machine learning, the Black Swift E2 drone is capable of completely autonomous flights. With optional laser navigation technology, the Black Swift E2 can safely navigate around complex structures, while delivering real-time actionable data to its operator.

Designed, manufactured and serviced entirely in the U.S., the E2 was engineered from inception for structural and industrial inspections. Its domestic manufacturing means that there are no open-source software concerns.

“The Black Swift E2 is our UAS platform of choice for conducting wind turbine inspections. It provides us with unparalleled performance, even in extreme conditions like heavy rains and high winds,” says Oier Peñagaricano, CEO of Alerion. 

“The Black Swift E2 can be fitted with our laser navigation technology permitting high-precision navigation up close to structure like viaducts, airplanes and commercial wind turbines, both onshore and offshore. With the press of a button, the Black Swift E2 can perform a fully-autonomous wind turbine inspection and real-time damage identification in as little as 15-minutes,” he adds.  

The Black Swift E2 carries its payload in front rather than on the belly of the aircraft enabling operators to get full field-of-view, even when looking vertically. A quick-change payload bay enables swapping the E2’s sensor packages. Its battery pack is also easy to change, and its placement is adjustable to maintain a perfect balance while accommodating a host of payloads. The typical payload includes an RGB camera, laser positioning and guidance system, and radio modem, but can be customized to the operator’s individual requirements including LiDAR, thermal imagery, trace gas sensors, radiometers and multispectral cameras.

A mobile solution, the Black Swift E2 folds down and fits into a custom carrying case for easy transport while protecting the aircraft from the potential damage during transit.

The E2 makes use of the SwiftCore flight management system (FMS) which consists of autopilot and intuitive user interfaces completely designed from the ground up by BST to automate missions in difficult conditions with minimal user training. The SwiftCore makes use of many capabilities including machine learning for preventative maintenance and is currently being tested in machine vision research to enable routine flights beyond the operator’s line-of-sight. 

Using BST’s proprietary Flight Planning User Interface, operators can program the Black Swift E2 to calculate the area under review and then begin collecting data for immediate analysis and decision making. With its tab-driven interface, flight planning is easy to accomplish. Mission monitoring and mapping are all done from a handheld Android Tablet loaded with BST’s SwiftTab software. Gesture-based controls enable users to deploy their Black Swift E2 with minimal training while being able to collect data in diverse environments. 

Photo: The Black Swift E2 UAS

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