LI-Based Robotics Firm Builds Unmanned Aerial Systems Locally to Support Future Windfarms
ULC Robotics, a rapidly expanding Long Island-based technology firm serving the utility and offshore wind markets, has been granted a temporary license agreement to use the inactive western runway at the Enterprise Park at Calverton (EPCAL) for testing of their unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones.
The request was unanimously approved at a meeting of the Riverhead Town Board on April 7, 2020 and enables ULC Robotics to use a 2,500 square foot area for flight test operations of their custom-developed, US-built blended wing body vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) fixed wing aircraft.
“Having open space away from the general public is key for us to safely perform flight testing of our new blended wing body VTOL aircraft,” said Mike Passaretti, Director of Aerial Services at ULC Robotics. “And there’s a lot of great history at EPCAL. It was the former site of the Grumman Corporation, where they assembled and tested their aircraft, so it feels like we’re reviving a little bit of Long Island’s aviation history.”
The VTOL aircraft is being developed at ULC Robotics’ Hauppauge, NY headquarters in order to support offshore wind farms, which are to be built off the coast of Long Island. By building and operating their purpose-built UAS to support wind farms, the company estimates a significant 6.8% reduction in the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) and expects a considerable reduction in or elimination of safety hazards.
ULC Robotics will deploy their VTOL aircraft to provide services including protected species observation during offshore wind farm construction, inspection of critical assets, the delivery of parts for repairs, and even search and rescue efforts.
ULC Robotics started supporting the offshore wind industry in 2018 by inspecting the wind turbine foundations of the Block Island Windfarm, the first windfarm in the US. The company has since continued work for Orsted, owner of the Block Island Wind Farm, and also currently performs unmanned aerial services for companies such as PSEG Long Island, National Grid, and Con Edison.