BladeBug robot inspects and repairs offshore wind assets

Aug. 3, 2022
The BladeBug technology is a six-legged inspect-and-repair robot that was developed under a £1 million collaboration project between BladeBUG and ORE Catapult, part funded by Innovate UK.
Offshore staff

LONDON  Distgen Faccombe LGC Ltd. supported BladeBUG Ltd., a robotic startup based in London, with the use of its wind asset during recent BladeBug technology field trials.

BladeBug develops advanced robots to assist technicians in the inspection and repair of turbine blades, without the need for rope access. The BladeBug technology is a six-legged inspect-and-repair robot that was developed under a £1 million collaboration project between BladeBUG and Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, part funded by Innovate UK. 

Stacey Rivers, BladeBug's business development and operations manager, said in a LinkedIn post, "Having access to operational wind turbines is fundamental for companies like BladeBUG to continually develop our technology as well as refine and optimize our systems and processes. With the help and support of people like Darran Potter [operations director at Distgen], we will rapidly see disruptive technology evolve."

This week BladeBUG also released a new look for the robot that includes a waterproof outer shell, which protects it from harsh elements when carrying out inspection and maintenance on wind turbines.

The advancements

In 2017 BladeBUG was awarded grant funding from Innovate UK as part of the Technologies for Extreme and Challenging Environments Competition. 

During 2017 and 2018, BladeBUG said it explored and tested various elements of the robot design to ensure maximum results from the smallest and simplest form possible. The company later announced the BladeBUG Mk1 robot was complete and capable of securely gripping all areas of a blade.

In 2019 BladeBUG was awarded further funding from Innovate UK for the next phase of Technologies for Extreme and Challenging Environments. The Phase 2 project ran until February 2021.

During 2019 and 2020, the robot evolved to a full walking and surface scanning demonstrator.

During 2020 development work took place on non-destructive test and repair capabilities for the robot. 

In November 2020, BladeBug announced the UK achieved the world’s first blade walk by a robot on an offshore wind turbine, thanks to BladeBUG and the ORE Catapult. Over two days in mid-October, the robot repeatedly scaled blades at ORE Catapult’s 7-MW Levenmouth Demonstration turbine off the coast of Fife, Scotland.

In June 2021, the BladeBug robot completed its first remote lightning protection test on an offshore turbine. Controlled from the safety of the nacelle, BladeBUG was able to perform a series of checks and tasks beyond the visual line of sight.