HelicalRobots, thanks for diving in and answering readers' questions. Beth's window washing question brings up one I had: what is the theoretical height limit, meaning, what is the power source and how far can they travel on it (or what's the half-height limit, since they have to get down again)?
Ann, thank you for taking the time to report on our technologies. Our goal is to make infrastructure more efficient by reducing cost and increasing safety thru the use of robotic solutions. Innovation only happens with adoption and that takes awareness. Early reports mean a lot to us and I personally want to say thank you.
Bruce A. Schlee
Jack, although there has been talk of other tower types, the wind industry has 100's of thousands of towers that are steel. The current size of this market as well as the vast number of tasks that robots like these can do more than creates a viable market, not to mention all the other industry applications. If needed however, we have designs for non-magnetic structures as well.
FYI. From the turbine towers I have seen, routine access is using a ladder inside the tower - a long, long climb. Workers can climb that and walk around inside the nacelle to work on the gearbox, atlernator, etc. If they need to go outside, they abseil down on ropes. The robot is still cool.
Pole-climbing robots like those from ICM have already been used for several such tasks, climbing telephone poles and other utility poles. Helical Robots says in a press release that it is working on different platforms for its climbing robots "in the conventional energy space, shipping, and steel structure areas."
Greg, I think the locomotive seal that they mention in the article "might" be sufficient to compensate for your concerns of dirt and moisture. it would have been useful if they have mentioned a little more about it, since the vertical climbing is the key to this particular robot. I was more concerned about the magnet version. I wonder how long the industry is going be using ferrous towers / poles and if this technology might be limiting the application.
Very interesting article which shows how a new energy technology can also spawn peripheral advances in other technologies areas. I would be interested to see how the different holding technologies perform in the field over time. I'm wondering how the vacuum technology will perform on a dirty/wet/moldy surface in unfavorable weather conditions.