Getting to the top of a wind turbine is no small feat — akin to summiting the Washington Monument — and even more difficult when the wind farm is at sea. So rather than force human inspectors to make the perilous climb, Helical Robotics has developed a magnetic turtle to do it for us.
Officially the HR-MP20, this single-handler robot measures 58cm x 64cm x 33cm, weighs 19kg, and is designed to scale the exteriors of a turbine mast and housing in order to reach and inspect the generator’s fan blades. These blades incur a large amount of wear through thermal and physical stresses and require regular inspection.
Typically, you’d just send a technician to climb the hundreds of feet of stairs and ladders inside the mast to do so but that’s an expensive and a time-consuming option. Instead, the HR-MP20 sticks to the mast’s metal exterior with five neodymium magnets and drives up the vertical column at 20m a minute using six Ni-MH batteries. The operator controls this ascent from the ground, up to 2500m below, via an RF controller. The front end of the robot (the end without the orange hard-case of antennas and motors) houses the sensory device, which can include up to 9kg of standard video equipment or specialty inspection devices like sonograms.