BladeBUG has unveiled its new-look concept robot, which for the first time has been coated in a waterproof outer shell.

BladeBUG

The latest BladeBUG robot, created for inspection and maintenance of wind turbines, is described as ‘more robust and agile than ever before’ with its waterproof covering protecting it from harsh elements.

A six-legged crawling robot, BladeBUG inspects and repairs wind turbine blades by waking on them, a task that currently requires human technicians to be exposed to hazardous conditions.

In development for a year, the latest BladeBUG is undergoing rigorous testing including being hung on a real blade, and testing of its body movement and walking gait. 

“We are really looking forward to showing our investors and the industry what we have achieved so far with the latest robot,” said Chris Cieslak, director and founder at BladeBUG. 

“The BladeBUG robot has been designed to reduce costly turbine shut downs for our wind energy clients. It’s important these projects operate as smoothly as possible as the UK focuses its energy supply on renewable resources. We know the new-look robot is going to demand a lot of attention and we look forward to introducing our supporters and investors to it over the coming months.”

The new-look BladeBUG robot has been made possible thanks to Robots for Inspection Network (RIMA), which last year awarded BladeBUG and EGGS Design €150,000 to develop the robot and improve its usability.

EGGS has worked with a variety of robotics and mechanical engineering projects to commercialise and develop products for industrial use. BladeBUG said their experience from delivering designs for extreme environments and professional users was valuable to the collaboration.

Earlier this year, the first BladeBUG robot was deployed in just 35 minutes to inspect areas of concern on a turbine blade — up to half the time it would take a human rope access technician. In 2021, the robot carried out a Lightning Protection Systems check during its first blade walk.

BladeBUG is already focusing on increasing the robot’s capabilities. Its engineers have been focusing on adding a suite of industry-standard tools and functionalities so O&M teams can treat defects before it would be viable to use a traditional rope access team, aiming to increase the turbine’s efficiency and maximise the low-carbon energy generated.