By Kalwinder Kaur
Moving on with innovative technology, GE Global Research can now provide its customers with convenient and rapid inspection of wind turbines.
A view of the remote-controlled, robotic device that can scale the wind tower and provide a closer inspection of wind blades. (Photo: Business Wire)
Based on a high-power telescope, an inspector recently observed the massive turbine blades 100 m from the ground. GE engineers have collaborated with Ithaca, International Climbing Machines (ICM) in N.Y. to devise a method to carry out the work with the help of a robotic device that can be remotely controlled. With a wireless, high-definition video camera equipped to its backside, the robotic device can be made to climb the tower.
This closer inspection will provide a high-precision picture of the overall working condition of the wind turbine blades. The inspector would be able to view the blades in real-time, about 10 m away from the safety of the ground, thereby ensuring detailed assessment and examination of their condition.
GE’s new inspection technology achieved positive results after being tested at a wind farm in Texas. It has enhanced weather tolerance than other conventional methods and therefore ensures consistent inspections even at situations with poor lighting conditions, or extreme weather conditions like snow or rain.
GE scientists are looking out for several ways to revolutionize this inspection technology. With the development of microwave scanner for robotic vehicle being underway, the innovators will get a more enhanced view of the wind blades. Microwaves, upon deployment will enable inspectors to view through the blade material and will give a prior indication of any breakdown in the structure in addition to providing a surface view. Furthermore, the use of small, helicopter-like vehicles is being validated by scientists at GE’s India Technology Center.