How do you inspect a wind turbine? It's actually a pretty tedious process that takes around four hours and involves someone standing out in a field, stopping the turbine and photographing any problems through a powerful telephoto lens. To make it infinitely easier, GE made a Spider-Man-like wall-climbing robot.
GE partnered with New York robotics company International Climbing Machines to make a machine that can climb vertically 90 metres with a camera strapped to its back. From the sky, it snaps photos of the giant fan and beams them back to the ground in just a few minutes. A vacuum pump on the robot's belly hugs the surface it's scaling tightly so it doesn't fall, and the seal is so strong that the little guy can shlep a 102kg load.
This real-life WALL-E could get even more high tech; GE engineers are tinkering with microwave scanners that could peep inside the blades and detect any impending breakdowns. [GE Reports]
Image: GE Reports