Access to a wind tower has traditionally required the use of cranes, bucket trucks, or rappelling teams. Engineers at Wisconsin-based Helical Robotics have designed another way and one, they say, streamlines the work. It uses remote-controlled, robotic devices that can scale a wind tower. These robotic platforms can be fitted with a wide range of devices from cameras and non-destructive testing equipment, to robotic arms and lifts.
The company unvielded its most recent platform, the HR-1000LL at AWEA’s Windpower 2012 in Atlanta. This system helps expand the company line of robotic platforms by letting a single operator lift hundreds of pounds up tower.
“Our motivation is to allow for a more efficient and safer wind farm by reducing the time and expense required to perform work from the safety of the ground,” says Helical Robots President Bruce Schlee. Using their technology, technicians have a real-time view of tower maintenance operations from on board cameras, and offsite personal can view the progress live.
Operations and maintenance is one of the most costly areas in wind-power production. According to Wind Energy Update, “Operations and Maintenance can account for as much as 26% of the total cost of a wind farm over the course of its lifetime.” Reducing this cost is important if the wind energy industry worldwide is to remain competitive with other sources of power. Helical Robotics has been working with industry experts as well as investing in research and development in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and has built a portfolio of robotic equipment. The company plans to use the most advanced technology, global resources, and services available to create a network of advanced robotic platforms that will change the face of infrastructure worldwide.
The company says it is also exploring ways to take this technology into other industries. For example, it is in the process of developing platforms and seeking business partners in the conventional energy space, shipping, and steel structure areas. Watch a cool video of the robots at the show climb a tower over a weld while an onboard camera looks back at onlookers. www.helicalrobotics.com/video.
Helical Robotics, LLC