Safe and efficient remote wind turbine inspection


Designing a remote maintenance and inspection robot

EGGS has helped robotics company BladeBUG design an advanced maintenance and inspection robot for the wind turbine industry. The robot enables safe and efficient inspection, even in rough and inaccessible environments such as at offshore wind farms located far out at sea.

Saving costs and enabling safe operations

The rapid growth of offshore wind provides new challenges and opportunities for remote maintenance and repair solutions. UK-based BladeBUG advanced robots can remotely perform tasks independently or assist technicians in the inspection, maintenance and repair of turbine blades. The robotic solution answers several of the wind energy industry's future challenges, especially in the offshore environment: Health & safety of workers at sea and at heights; skill shortage to maintain the number of expected turbines; and the cost of maintaining larger turbines further from shore.

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.

A robust appearance – and performance

EGGS have helped design the robot’s external casing and ensuring that it’s robust enough to perform in challenging environments. The new aesthetics provides a sense of confidence that the robot is robust enough to manage the handling and environment of a wind turbine – on and offshore. Moreover, we have improved the experience of handling or manoeuvring the robot. Overall, the robot feels more rugged and able to withstand tough treatment during transport, deployment, and operation up on the nacelle and blade of a turbine.

An external casing covers all the previously exposed electronics, and sensitive moving parts are now nestled behind panels, so that there is a reduced risk of ingress from dust, water, oil, and salt. Sturdy handles on the top and sides allow for more flexible movement when carrying or moving the robot around.

Improved internal architecture

The external design decisions have also impacted the architecture of the robot, making adaptations and improvements on a larger scale than just aesthetic and superficial. The leg structure and enclosing of electronics have been redeveloped as part of the casing design, and an internal enclosure has been added that protects the main electronics from any water or dust. Fixtures and updated placements have also greatly improved ease-of-use; particularly when removing and inserting elements, such as the lithium-power pack.

“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."
Chris Cieslak, CEO of BladeBUG

The robot is now a manufactured prototype of an external shell, where all electronics and sensitive moving parts are entirely and partially enclosed with water-tight casing or panels.

Part of a 10 month EU-funded project

As beneficiaries of European Union funding of €150kas part of the RIMA network Open Call 2, BladeBUG and EGGS Design have developed, tested, and validated the robot in an operational environment. The funding is part of the RIMA (Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance) programme, which connects research, technology and service providers, industry sectors and digital innovation hubs to SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) looking to accelerate innovation.

With a ready prototype, BladeBUG are now planning for manufacturing, constructing, assembling the detailed prototype. Watch this space to see BladeBUG’s in action in the near future!

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. The collaboration and development has been remote, with EGGS’ team split between Denmark and Norway, and BladeBUG based in London in the UK.

Sounds interesting?

Kate Saunders

Have a chat with our Lead Digital Designer
Kate Saunders
+45 617 06 500

Carl-Gustaf Lundholm

Get in touch with Industrial Design Specialist
Carl-Gustaf Lundholm
+47 415 42 674

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