A new type of wind turbine inspection device is capable of climbing straight up the side of the turbine’s tower and along the blades, enabling technicians to examine the equipment without leaving the ground.
One decidedly unexciting aspect of wind power is the need for regular inspections and maintenance of installed wind turbines, and because most inspections require a human technician to use a rigging system to ascend and descend the towers, coming up with innovative ways to reduce the risk and increase the effectiveness of inspections could be a key component in the growth and success of wind power.
While there are other versions of climbing robots for wind tower inspections, they tend to require a tether to provide for their power needs and navigation. But a new robotic platform from Helical Robotics is operated wirelessly, which offers a more versatile solution to periodic inspections of a variety of types of turbine installations.
“Technology advances such as this will be the primary factor that determines the success of Wind Power and other renewable energies. By reducing the cost of operations and maintenance, Helical Robotics mobile platforms will make wind energy more efficient and cost competitive.” – Bruce Schlee, President of Helical Robotics
The HR-MP20 Magnetic Platform Lifting Vehicle uses wheel-mounted neodymium magnets to adhere to the surface of the tower, and can climb right up the side of it to reach the turbine and blades at the top of the installation. It can carry an onboard camera and other sensors to gather data about the turbine, and is able to haul up to 20 pounds of other gear as well.
The device weighs in at about 42 pounds, and can climb at rates of up to about 43 feet per minute on both flat and curved surfaces, such as those found on the towers and turbines.
Helical Robotics has other models of robots in the works, such as their HR-1001 ULL Ultra-Light Lift platform, and the HR-JP10 Javelin, an inspection robot for use in pipes and other enclosed-space applications.
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