BladeBUG Walks the Walk

The BladeBUG inspect-and-repair robot for offshore wind turbine blades has completed the latest round of testing at Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, the UK.

Source: ORE Catapult

During the trials that took place in early March, the robot walked on blade surfaces, proving the stability of its vacuum adhesion technology and its dexterity in adapting its gait to the varying curves, ORE Catapult said.

Ancillary tethers, which are expected to allow the robot to operate for extended periods offshore and enable rapid deployment to and from blades, were also proven.

The six-legged blade crawler will now begin integration into the MIMRee (Multi-Platform Inspection Maintenance and Repair in Extreme Environments) project, where it will operate alongside other robotic and autonomous systems.

During the project led by Plant Integrity, an autonomous vessel will act as a launch platform, deploying teams of drones and BladeBUG robots to inspect, test and repair blade surfaces.

“Inspection and maintenance of wind turbines at sea are mammoth tasks for technicians, who largely manually test and repair tens of millions of bolts, thousands of blade surfaces at significant heights above sea level, or as part of the foundations or cables at the seabed,” said Chris Hill, Operational Performance Director at ORE Catapult.

“The BladeBUG concept recognises that there is a safer, more cost-effective and efficient way of working. If advanced robotics can take on some manual tasks offshore, we can move our future jobs towards more data-driven, remote supervision onshore – expertise that will be in high demand in the future global economy.”