Published October 16, 2023 | Version v1
Preprint Open

Rotary-wing drone-induced flow – comparison of simulations with lidar measurements

  • 1. DTU Wind Energy Systems
  • 2. Geophysical Institute and Bergen Offshore Wind Centre, University of Bergen


Ultrasonic anemometers mounted on rotary-wing drones have the potential to provide a cost-efficient alternative to the classical meteorological mast-mounted counterpart for wind energy applications. However, the propeller-induced flow may deteriorate the accuracy of free wind velocity measurements by wind sensors mounted on the drone. Therefore, we performed an experiment using three short-range continuous-wave Doppler lidars (DTU WindScanners) to measure the complex and turbulent three-dimensional wind field around a hovering drone at low ambient wind speeds. The results obtained by lidar measurements and computational fluid dynamics simulations are in good agreement. Both methods conclude that the disturbance zone on a horizontal plane 0.7 meters below the drone, extends about 2 meters upstream from the drone center for the horizontal wind velocity and more than 5 meters for the vertical wind velocity. By comparing wind velocities along horizontal lines in the upstream direction, we find that the velocity difference between the two methods is less than 0.1 ms−1 in most cases. Both plane and line scan results validate the reliability of simulations. Furthermore, simulations of flow patterns in a vertical plane at low ambient speed indicate that it is difficult to accurately measure the vertical wind component with less than 1 % distortion by drone-mounted sonic anemometers.



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Additional details


EU-HEU-CL5-2001-D3- 03


FLOW – Atmospheric Flow, Loads and pOwer for Wind energy 101084205
European Commission