Campus for the development and testing of offshore UAS and their operational concepts
The ODCC — Offshore Drone Campus Cuxhaven — is a location for the joint application-oriented development and testing of offshore UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) and their operational concepts. The focus of Fraunhofer IFAM is on questions of maintenance and inspection, as well as monitoring of important maritime structures including regulatory framework conditions.
The goal of the Offshore Drone Campus Cuxhaven (ODCC) is to exploit the large, yet untapped potential for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in substituting manual work in the maritime service sector (e.g., inspections, surveys, maintenance, repairs, transports). Autonomous long-term inspections by UAS on offshore wind turbines, for example, can achieve significant cost reductions. Another important point is to increase sustainable energy production by using electrically powered aircraft instead of manned helicopters with combustion engines. To achieve this goal, various aspects are being addressed for implementation at the new Fraunhofer IFAM site in Cuxhaven.
Solutions for customized missions
In order to meet the individual requirements, it is important to configure the UAS depending on the mission and investigate the various options for energy supply. Here, the focus is on comparing battery systems, combustion engines (fuel hybrid propulsion) and fuel cells (hydrogen hybrid propulsion).
In the field of components, fault-tolerant drive systems have to enable safe maneuvering due to the demanding offshore conditions. Functioning material protection concepts are essential to ensure that electrical and structural components can withstand the constant salt load, high humidity and UV exposure. The compatibility of the end effectors and sensor systems with the offshore UAS is also being researched.
For the safety-based approach to commercial application of offshore UAS, continuous flight monitoring and guaranteed flight control is of paramount importance. This includes solutions for collision avoidance systems, redundant communication and control units, navigation along a structure under variable environmental conditions and landing on (automated) floating platforms.
Cuxhaven is ideal location for research
The campus in Cuxhaven, the center of the German offshore industry, bundles expertise of industry and research institutions “under one roof”. In addition to flight test, office, and workshop space for electrical engineering work for example, a 3D printer is also available to implement rapid prototype production, including end effectors.