The development of a robot – step by step

Enabling smarter, safer, and greener inspection and maintenance of wind turbines

Since Autumn of 2021, EGGS has been working with leading robotics company BladeBUG on an EU-funded project from the RIMA organisation to further develop their advanced maintenance and inspection robot for the wind turbine industry. In this article, we’ll learn more about the project process and its development.

BladeBUG - a UK-based, leading robotics company, with the purpose to enable

Entering 2022, the project is almost at the end of the second stage, and we're now preparing to manufacture the final prototype. Thus, we wanted to share some insight into the process so far. The joint team from BladeBUG and EGGS have worked diligently across three countries and two time zones to bring the advanced robot closer to a mature and commercial product. Despite the challenges of working on a physical product remotely, the process has been enabled by close collaboration, frequent and open communication, and the use of digital tools such as Miro and GrabCAD.

The RIMA project focuses on preparing the robot for its extreme environment and improving the experience and handling by professional users, specifically the industrial design of an external, protective casing.

Stage 1: Technological development – putting the users first

The initial stage dealt with understanding the overall user journey of BladeBUG, from preparation, transport, deployment, and operations, to removal. A subgoal of the RIMA project has been to focus on the usability and handling of the robot, to improve the experience of technicians and service providers operating the robot.

To further understand the domain, users, and deployment methodologies used, EGGS’ designers interviewed five focus users, as well as holding in-depth onboarding sessions with the engineers from BladeBUG. This detailed knowledge helped inform the initial concept directions and identify opportunities and areas of friction during the use of the robot. This also allowed the team to explore various areas of improvement, sketch out a variety of early concepts, and ensure that the intended design matches the user needs and environmental conditions on-site.

At the end of this stage, the results were a clear set of design specifications based on the detailed user insight, technical and functional requirements, and three initial conceptual directions. Another area to focus on for the technological development was collaborating with Digital Innovation Hubs from within the RIMA network. We defined several technical challenges where the wider network could contribute to the product's technical development with knowledge and expertise over the project's duration.

To further understand the domain, users, and deployment methodologies used, EGGS’ designers interviewed five focus users, as well as holding in-depth onboarding sessions with the engineers from BladeBUG. This detailed knowledge helped inform the initial concept directions and identify opportunities and areas of friction during the use of the robot.

Stage 2: Technical experimentation

With the scope defined, the following stage has been about selecting a concept direction and moving from a broad conceptual design towards design detailing. Sketching and early CAD prototyping provided mediums to explore and experiment with the different options for specific parts of the robot. It has also offered an opportunity to explore the overall visual impact and develop the look-and-feel in alignment with the brand direction of BladeBUG.

The design detailing had an unexpected benefit on the robot's internals and mechanics and has allowed us to simplify some of the components. “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," comments Chris Cieslak, founder, and CEO of BladeBUG.

As this stage draws to a close, we’re looking ahead to stage three: manufacturing, constructing, assembling the detailed prototype, and moving towards demonstrating BladeBUG’s new casing in a realistic environment!

Above shows BladeBUG in its exposed state, without an external casing. The latter parts of the stage have dealt with detailing and simplifying the casing parts, identifying and sourcing components, considering the detailed assembly and construction of the product, and preparing for the prototype manufacture. Soon we can share the final results with BladeBUG fully enclosed and stepping out in it’s intended environment!

Sounds interesting?

Kate Saunders

Let's talk to Lead Digital Designer
Kate Saunders
+45 617 06 500
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