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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2020-258
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2020-258
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  08 Sep 2020

08 Sep 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Towards accurate and practical drone-based wind measurements with an ultrasonic anemometer

William Thielicke, Waldemar Hübert, and Ulrich Müller William Thielicke et al.
  • OPTOLUTION Messtechnik GmbH, Gewerbestr. 18, 79539 Lörrach, Germany

Abstract. Wind data collection in the atmospheric boundary layer benefits from short term wind speed measurements using unmanned aerial vehicles. Fixed and rotary wing devices with diverse anemometer technology have been used in the past to provide such data, but the accuracy still has the potential to be increased. We developed a light weight drone (weight including sensor < 5 kg) with long flight endurance (> 45 min) for carrying an industry standard precision sonic anemometer. Accuracy tests have been performed with the isolated anemometer at high tilt angles in a calibration wind tunnel, with the drone flying in a large wind tunnel, and with the full system flying at different heights next to a bistatic lidar reference.

The propeller-induced flow deflects the air to some extent, but this effect is compensated effectively. Our data fusion shows no signs of crosstalk between ground speed and wind speed. When compared with the bistatic lidar in very turbulent conditions, with 10 seconds averaging interval and with the UAV constantly circling around the measurement volume of the lidar reference, wind speed measurements have an average absolute bias of 1.9 % (0.073 m s−1), wind elevation average absolute bias is 0.5°, and wind azimuth average absolute bias is 1.5°, indicating excellent accuracy under challenging and dynamic conditions. The system was finally flown in the wake of a wind turbine, successfully measuring the spatial velocity deficit distribution during forward flight, yielding results that are in very close agreement to lidar measurements and the theoretical distribution. We believe that the results presented in this paper can provide important information for designing flying systems for precise air speed measurements either for short duration at multiple locations (battery powered) or for long duration at a single location (power supplied via cable). UAVs that are able to accurately measure three-dimensional wind might be used as cost effective and flexible addition to measurement masts and lidar scans.

William Thielicke et al.

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William Thielicke et al.

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Dataset for the paper "Towards accurate and practical drone-based wind measurements with an ultrasonic anemometer" W. Thielicke, W. Hübert, and U. Müller https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.12581678.v3

William Thielicke et al.

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Latest update: 23 Nov 2020
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Short summary
We developed a wind measuring drone with exceptional measuring accuracy and a very long flight time. Measurements are extensively validated at different levels. A comparison with a bistatic lidar reveals very small bias and RMS errors. We also present a demonstration measurement in the wake of a wind turbine. We think that our solution is a significant enhancement to existing designs, and other researchers can benefit from the details that we are giving in the paper.
We developed a wind measuring drone with exceptional measuring accuracy and a very long flight...
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