Inspection robot shimmies out onto spinning wind turbine blades

Have you ever wondered how they inspect those giant wind turbines blades after the turbine is up and running? I suppose you could stop the thing and bring in some climbing gear, but that would be both dangerous and expensive. Luckily, this robot is ready to do the job, using powerful magnets to cling tenaciously to the metal surfaces as it spins around.

The HR-MP20 robot from Helical Robotics can carry up to 20 pounds of sensors, cameras, and other inspection gear, using five powerful neodymium magnets to stick like a limpet to steel towers and turbine blades that are at least seven feet in diameter. The robot is controlled wirelessly from the ground, and with a top speed of over 43 feet per minute, it can get to the end of even the longest turbine blades in just a few minutes. What's really impressive is that even out at the blade tip, the magnets are powerful enough to keep the 42-pound robot from being launched skyward.

At around $20,000, the HR-MP20 will sit in the middle of the Helical Robotics range, with both a smaller and larger model to follow.

Check out the video to see the HR-MP20 in action. At a couple of points you can see it as a little speck riding out there near the end of the spinning blade.

Gizmag, via Treehugger


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