Development of a robotic maintenance system for wind turbine blades

Romain aims to develop a complete solution for robotic based inspection and repair of wind turbine blades (WTBs). Firstly, we will integrate thermography and shearography with laser heating, so  that advanced lock-in techniques will be achieved for up-tower inspection of both surface and subsurface defects within WTBs. (Current techniques including drone-based are limited to surface defects only).

Secondly, a compact and efficient robotic deployment system will be developed which will hold the inspection unit and a robotic repair arm. The robotic system will be operated by engineers working on the ground. When defects are detected and deemed reparable, the repair arm of the whole system will be activated to rapidly repair the faulty area of composite components by resistance welding for joining and/or disassembly.

Comparing to the traditional adhesively bonding for repair, the proposed resistance welding with optimised processing would significantly reduce the curing cycles/time with much fewer preparation for surface treatment steps while it will be more easily designed to integrate with robotic arm. The whole system will be operated remotely by engineers working on the ground without high risk exposure to working at height on WTBs. Field trials on wind turbines will be conducted to validate the system.

This project is participated by EDP LABELEC (Portugal), ROPE ROBOTICS (Denmark), Alerion (Spain), TECNALIA (Spain), Front Technologies (UK), University of Chester (UK)

In the ROMAIN project, ALERION will lead the tasks related with the design, development and deployment of customised solutions using AI/ML to categorize and characterize specific damages from shearography and thermography images.