Inspecting wind turbine blades is a dangerous and expensive part of operating a wind farm. But now it may be possible to have robots do the dangerous climbing work, and allow the inspector to stay safely on the ground.
Turbine blades need to be regularly inspected as part of its regular maintenance. Inspection helps identify blades that need repair or replacement, before further damage occurs.
The robots for this task have been developed in partnership between International Climbing Machines and GE. The first tests of the robot were successfully carried out at a wind farm in Texas. In addition to the high-definition cameras the robots currently carry, GE is exploring the use of microwave scanners that could give inspectors an ability to "see inside" the blade and gather more information than a conventional visual inspection.