Offshore repair and maintenance robot BladeBUG has successfully performed a remotely controlled lightning protection test on an offshore wind turbine.

During a three-day trial carried out at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s Levenmouth facility, BladeBUG was controlled from the nacelle using onboard cameras. It performed a series of checks and tasks beyond the visual line of sight whilst the rope operator remained in the safety of the nacelle.

BladeBUG makes robotic ‘blade walk’ on operational wind turbine

BladeBUG carried out a Lightning Protection System (LPS) check, a routine task for offshore wind rope access technicians. According to the BladeBUG team, the robot’s ability to carry out such tasks could cut offshore wind maintenance costs and allow for better efficiency.

The robot’s manoeuvrable body allows it to move and be positioned independently of the legs, and its onboard cameras allowed the robot’s LPS probe to be positioned and lowered onto the lightning receptor to take a conductivity reading. This was compared with a manual reading to confirm both were the same.

A variety of tasks were undertaken by BladeBUG, which was able to walk the entire length of the 80m blade. Director of BladeBUG, Chris Cieslak, said that the next step will be to increase the robot’s capabilities by adding a suite of industry standard tools and functionalities.

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