Inspection robot for offshore wind turbines

26 January 2021

The rotor blades of wind turbines have to be serviced and checked for damage at regular intervals. So far, this task has been carried out by industrial climbers, and possible damage can already be detected by aerial drones. For systems that are getting bigger and bigger, especially those in offshore use, the previous solutions for maintenance are limited. This is why the British company BladeBUG has developed a six-legged robot over the past few years that is about to be ready for the market.

Reduction of maintenance costs by a third

After several years of development, the robot successfully ran 50 meters over a vertically positioned rotor blade of a 7 MW offshore wind turbine in Levenmouth/UK in a function test at the end of 2020. It was driven by several electric motors. Hydraulic suction cups prevented slipping on curved, sloping or rising surfaces. During the test run, the various offshore conditions were simulated and the behavior of the BladeBUG was examined. A camera provided data from the surface of the rotor blade being examined. The robot was controlled by remote control.

The final version of the BladeBUG will function autonomously and will be able to carry out maintenance work and crack detection in offshore wind turbines in combination with aerial drones. The developers hope that the use of the inspection robot will reduce maintenance costs by 30% compared to the previous method. The developers are even assuming a cost reduction by half for the larger systems. In addition to inspecting the rotor blades, smaller repair work such as repairing minor damage using synthetic resin could also be carried out by a BladeBUG in the future.

image source: Bladebug