Delivery Drones Bring Spare Parts to Offshore Wind Farms in Denmark

July 17, 2023 by Shannon Cuthrell

Swiss drone company RigiTech unveils an autonomous drone system with precision target capabilities to drop parts to offshore wind turbines miles from shore. 

Switzerland-based aerial logistics firm Rigi Technologies (RigiTech) recently debuted an advanced drone-delivered payload system to bring replacement parts to an offshore wind farm in Denmark. 


high-precision drone to deliver parts to offshore wind turbines

RigiTech recently unveiled a high-precision drone to deliver parts to offshore wind turbines. Image used courtesy of RigiTech


Headed by Danish energy giant Ørsted, the 400-megawatt Anholt Offshore Wind Farm is among the largest projects of its kind worldwide, featuring 111 Siemens-Gamesa wind turbines. Ørsted first teamed up with RigiTech last year to test long-distance drone transport of spare parts/tools at the site in partnership with Denmark-based transport/logistics firm DSV and autonomous systems operator Holo. 

RigiTech and Holo completed 40 flights throughout the project, dropping payloads atop a 311-foot-tall wind turbine about 18 miles from shore. 

The newly announced advanced dropping system prototype marks a step up in the efficiency of RigiTech’s largest drone, Eiger. According to RigiTech’s website, Eiger has a 62-mile range, a payload of 6.6 pounds or 15 liters, and can brace winds up to 33 miles per hour. The new dropping capability allows Eiger to complete missions without landing, speeding up the delivery time to 30 minutes. 

RigiTech CEO Adam Klaptocz said staff needed to develop several technologies to enable centimeter-level precision in delivering parts to offshore wind substations, including artificial intelligence-based flight planning algorithms, precision navigation in high winds, and computer vision and sensor fusion systems. Designed as an optional add-on to the Eiger platform, the prototype device is equipped with an automated connector remotely activated by RigiTech’s cloud service to release the pod upon reaching the destination. 


Drone Testing at the Anholt Offshore Wind Farm

Maintenance procedures for turbine repairs are time-intensive and costly. RigiTech says its battery-powered drones allow companies like Ørsted to avoid 500 liters of diesel fuel that would otherwise be consumed during vessel-transported repairs. This also supports Ørsted’s goal to become carbon-neutral by 2025. 

RigiTech initially conducted a transport test in June 2022, with the drone making its first take-off from Ørsted’s warehouse at the Port of Grenaa. Traversing tens of miles, the drone landed on an offshore substation at the Anholt Offshore Wind Farm, delivered the spare parts, and then returned to the warehouse. 

RigiTech billed the event as a world-first operation, with the delivery route remotely controlled and monitored from Holo’s office in Copenhagen via the RigiCloud software. The Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations were run remotely by Holo hundreds of kilometers away, and the video was live-streamed so Ørsted’s warehouse staff and Holo could monitor each delivery. Before the flight, on-site warehouse workers equipped the drone with batteries and a payload while the vehicle performed automated pre-flight checks independently. 


RigiTech’s drone drop-delivers a payload

RigiTech’s drone drop-delivers a payload. Image used courtesy of RigiTech

RigiTech’s Other Activities

RigiTech’s announcement said the successful performance of the new prototype would allow the company to establish new use cases and implement its technology at other industrial sites alongside its existing market in healthcare and humanitarian logistics operations. 


Video used courtesy of RigiTech


The company recently became the first to operate an approved BVLOS route in France, delivering a 6.6-pound capacity payload of medical boxes containing up to 150 pre-conditioned blood vials. And in October of 2022, RigiTech announced it completed one of the first long-range BVLOS drone delivery routes in its home country of Switzerland, flying over Lake Geneva to the rooftop of a laboratory and back.