The robot enables safe and efficient inspection, even in rough and inaccessible environments such as at offshore wind farms located far out at sea.
The rapid growth of offshore wind provides new challenges and opportunities for remote maintenance and repair solutions. UK-based BladeBUG advanced robots can remotely perform tasks independently or assist technicians in the inspection, maintenance and repair of turbine blades. The robotic solution answers several of the wind energy industry’s future challenges, especially in the offshore environment: Health & safety of workers at sea and at heights; skill shortage to maintain the number of expected turbines; and the cost of maintaining larger turbines further from shore.
EGGS have helped design the robot’s external casing and ensuring that it’s robust enough to perform in challenging environments. The new aesthetics provides a sense of confidence that the robot is robust enough to manage the handling and environment of a wind turbine – on and offshore. Moreover, we have improved the experience of handling or manoeuvring the robot. Overall, the robot feels more rugged and able to withstand tough treatment during transport, deployment, and operation up on the nacelle and blade of a turbine.
The external design decisions have also impacted the architecture of the robot, making adaptations and improvements on a larger scale than just aesthetic and superficial. The leg structure and enclosing of electronics have been redeveloped as part of the casing design, and an internal enclosure has been added that protects the main electronics from any water or dust. Fixtures and updated placements have also greatly improved ease-of-use; particularly when removing and inserting elements, such as the lithium-power pack.
“Working with external designers with experience in similar projects has provided BladeBUG with an opportunity to rethink certain aspects of the robot and offered a fresh perspective on some of the internals and how they interface with a protective, weatherproof external casing.” Chris Cieslak, CEO of BladeBUG.
As beneficiaries of European Union funding of €150kas part of the RIMA network Open Call 2, BladeBUG and EGGS Design have developed, tested, and validated the robot in an operational environment. The funding is part of the RIMA (Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance) programme, which connects research, technology and service providers, industry sectors and digital innovation hubs to SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) looking to accelerate innovation.
With a ready prototype, BladeBUG are now planning for manufacturing, constructing, assembling the detailed prototype. Watch this space to see BladeBUG’s in action in the near future!