Bird tracking system for wind power stations

The species protection requirements for the construction and operation of wind turbines have increased enormously in recent years, resulting in a sharp drop in the number of further additions of such stations. If a protected bird nests itself near a wind mill, it may even be turned off completely. To avoid the long and costly switch-off times the Bürgerwindpark Hohenlohe together with the phil-vision GmbH developed a system, based on artificial intelligence, to recognize and localize large raptors and follow their trajectory. This way, it is possible to slow down the wind turbine decidedly only if a bird goes below a certain distance to it.

  • Design of the optical system

    Design of the optical system

    To capture the entire airspace, cameras are mounted all around the mast of the wind turbine.
  • Classification

    Classification

    Bird and bird species are recognized with elaborately trained neural networks.
  • Tracking

    Tracking

    The flight paths of detected birds are tracked by the software.

For the acquisition of the images multiple industrial colour cameras are installed on the mast of the wind mill, integrated in weather-proof housings, to monitor the complete air space around it. To capture the whole 360° special wide-angle optics are used which are explicitly designed to overlook large fields of view like this. For the development phase, the big amount of image data necessary for the “deep learning” procedure was then processed on a high-performance industrial PC. For the creation of the actual image processing we relied on neuronal networks with the help of which the recognition of the birds was trained. Thus the “deep learning” enabled us to develop an intelligent system that detects the animals concerned. Due to the intense training period we were able to realise the differentiation of large raptors from smaller birds and other objects extremely robust. If a protected species is recognized, the trajectory of the bird is followed until it either leaves the area surveyed by the camera or flies too close to the turbine.

If a bird comes below the defined minimal distance to the wind mill, a signal is output to the control centre, so a following reaction and slowing of the turbine can be carried out in time.

The aim was to meet the existing requirements of species protection and thus be able to accomplish the absolutely essential expansion of renewable energy in the field of wind power.