BladeBUG unveils new inspection and maintenance robot

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: 03/08/2022 BladeBUG

BladeBUG has revealed its new-look concept robot, which for the first time has been covered in an outer shell. The latest BladeBUG robot has a waterproof covering, which protects it from harsh elements when carrying out inspection and maintenance of wind turbines.

A six-legged crawling robot, the BladeBUG robot inspects and repairs turbine blades by walking on them, a task that currently requires human technicians. In development for a year, the latest BladeBUG is undergoing testing including being hung on a real blade, and testing of its body movement and walking gait.

Chris Cieslak, Director and Founder at BladeBUG, said: “We are really looking forward to showing our investors and the industry what we have achieved so far with the latest robot. 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.

“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. We know the new-look robot is going to demand a lot of attention and we look forward to introducing our supporters and investors to it over the coming months.”

The development of the new-look BladeBUG robot was supported by Robots for Inspection Network (RIMA) which last year awarded BladeBUG and EGGS Design €150,000 to develop the robot and improve its usability for professional users.

Chris Cieslak continued: “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.”

BladeBUG claims its robot is can reduce downtime when carrying out maintenance tasks or inspecting damaged turbines. It stated that during  tests earlier this year, the first BladeBUG 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.

In 2021, the robot reportedly carried out a Lightning Protection Systems check during its first blade walk. BladeBUG stated that this is just one of an array of tasks the robot will be capable of performing during offshore wind turbine maintenance and inspection going forward.

BladeBUG is already focusing on increasing the robot’s capabilities. Its engineers have been 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.