BladeBUG’s six-legged robot that walks on wind turbine blades has been upgraded with a waterproof outer shell that protects it from harsh elements while it is carrying out inspection and maintenance work.
“The BladeBUG has, until now, appeared to be exposed to the elements without an outer casing to protect it. That has all changed with our latest model, which is more versatile and robust than ever before”, said Chris Cieslak, Director and Founder at BladeBUG.
The upgrade was performed following a EUR 150,000 grant that Robots for Inspection Network (RIMA) awarded last year to BladeBUG and EGGS Design to develop the robot and improve its usability for professional users.
The latest model is currently undergoing rigorous testing including being hung on a real blade, and testing of its body movement and walking gait, according to BladeBUG.
“The grant really opened up an amazing opportunity to work with the very capable team at EGGS, while giving us access to RIMA network research groups. It’s helped us to understand technical challenges better and help widen our solutions for the market”, Chris Cieslak said.
Earlier this year, GE Renewable Energy and Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult tested the six-legged robot on ORE Catapult’s 7 MW Levenmouth demonstration offshore turbine in Fife, where BladeBUG crawled inside the turbine to inspect bolts and identify any loss of tension.
Also during tests performed earlier this year, the first BladeBUG advanced robot was deployed in just 35 minutes to inspect areas of concern on a turbine blade – up to half the time it would take a human rope access technician, BladeBUG said.
Last year, the robot carried out a Lightning Protection Systems check during its first blade walk, according to the company.
BladeBUG also said it was already focusing on further increasing the robot’s capabilities, with engineers now turning their attention to adding a suite of industry-standard tools and functionalities to the BladeBUG so O&M teams can treat defects before it would be viable to use a traditional rope access team.
“The BladeBUG robot has been designed to reduce costly turbine shut downs for our wind energy clients. It’s important these projects operate as smoothly as possible as the UK focuses its energy supply on renewable resources”, Chris Cieslak said.
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