Alternative Energy

Published on October 19th, 2009 | by Derek Markham


Remote Controlled Robots Can Inspect, Clean, and Maintain Wind Turbines

With the increased installation of wind turbines, we’re getting more clean energy, but one thing that isn’t so easy to do is inspect the blades, towers, and turbines. Usually this involves sending people up the towers to rappel down the blades or towers to inspect and clean the machines and towers. Using a remote control robot to do this job could take much of the risk out the inspection and maintenance procedure.

Image: Ignorant WalkingWind Turbine Formation

Wind Turbine Formation

Because wind turbines are purposely installed in high wind areas, sending humans out on the towers and blades can be dangerous and costly, due to the risk involved and the fact that it can only be done on low wind days. Sending a robot such as the International Climbing Machines Climber to inspect the turbines can help to lower the cost and increase the safety to the workers, while making it easier to perform inspections more frequently.

Image: ICMClimber


The Climber can crawl up almost any vertical or inverted surface held to by vacuum force. It adheres to metal, concrete, brick, virtually any hard surface. The flexible seal securely adheres the Climber as it moves over surface irregularities – obstacles like weld seams, bolt heads, or plates.

Image: ICMClimber


An attached video camera turns them into remote controlled, free-climbing video inspection devices, and other tools can be attached to the machines for other common tasks.  Mechanical abraders housed in a vacuum chamber help with cleaning and remediation jobs, and because the materials cleaned from the surface are captured by the vacuum  and transported by a hose directly into drums for disposal, no human contact is necessary and no toxic materials are released into the environment.

Image: ICMClimber


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About the Author

lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, slacklining, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves good food, with fresh roasted chiles at the top of his list of favorites. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, RebelMouse, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!

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