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RIWEA: The Rope-Climbing Wind Turbine Inspection Robot

Even the most dedicated turbine-inspecting human may occasionally miss something. Fortunately, a new robot named RIWEA can detect the tiniest delaminations and cracks on rotor blades— even below the surface. RIWEA was built by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation in Germany, and comes equipped with a number of advanced sensor systems.

The robot, which is made of glass fiber reinforced plastic, is equipped with an infrared radiator that conducts heat to the surface of the rotor blades, a high-resolution thermal camera that records the temperature pattern, an ultrasonic system and high-resolution camera.

RIWEA is also an agile climber— it can pull itself up a rope automatically to reach turbine rotor blades.

While the robot could put turbine inspectors out of a job, it will ultimately ensure maximum safety and reliability for the wind energy industry. It will also soon have it’s own feature at Climbing Videos.

Photo Credit: RIWEA

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Written By

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.


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