Currently, wind turbines are inspected for damage in two main ways: someone stands on the ground below them and uses a telescope, or people use rigging systems to actually climb across them. Now, Oregon, Wisconsin-based Helical Robotics is offering an alternative – camera-equipped turbine-climbing robots.
The HR-MP series of wheeled robots cling to the turbine tower’s metallic vertical surface using magnets, and then proceed to climb up to get a better look at the blades and other components via radio remote control.
A variety of sizes are available (or are in the works), with the HR-MP20 occupying the middle of the range. It weighs 42 pounds (19 kg), can carry up to 20 pounds (9 kg) of sensors and other gear while climbing, at speeds of up to 43.6 feet per minute (13.3 meters/minute). Five neodymium magnets allow it to adhere to both flat and curved metal surfaces, up to seven feet (2.3 meters) in diameter.
Should you be wanting one to inspect your own personal wind turbine, you’ll need to fork out at least US$19,995 – depending on the robot's specific configuration. You might also be interested in International Climbing Machines’ Climber robot, although it’s tethered as opposed to radio-controlled.
An HR-MP20 can be seen in action in the video below.