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Video: Maintenance Robots Climb Wind Towers
7/27/2012

GE Global Research has been conducting tests with International Climbing Machines' tower-climbing robots, which use vacuum force to adhere to wind towers.   (Source: International Climbing Machines)
GE Global Research has been conducting tests with International Climbing Machines' tower-climbing robots, which use vacuum force to adhere to wind towers.
(Source: International Climbing Machines)

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Beth Stackpole
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Not height adverse
Beth Stackpole   7/27/2012 7:14:01 AM
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Wow, love that image of the robot scaling the huge tower. We have a few really large wind towers in the town where I live and I've often wondered who the heck was going to go up and service the blades if there was a problem. Not only are there height issues, but what about wind and weather? This is a great application for robotics. Very cool.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Not height adverse
Ann R. Thryft   7/27/2012 12:55:33 PM
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Beth, when I pass by wind towers I've also wondered the same thing. They look difficult to access, and they are. This looks like a big improvement even over telescopes.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Not height adverse
Beth Stackpole   7/27/2012 3:24:34 PM
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I just was out running errands and saw a bucket truck of guys fixing a street lamp, but they were way up high and all I could think of was this robot. None of them looked happy to be up there and it was no where near as high as the wind towers. I'm sure they would have welcomed the sight of this robot.

Greg M. Jung
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Platinum
Sealing
Greg M. Jung   7/27/2012 10:52:48 PM
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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.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Sealing
Jack Rupert, PE   7/28/2012 6:03:50 PM
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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.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Not height adverse
Ann R. Thryft   7/30/2012 12:54:59 PM
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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."

b-whiteside
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Iron
Re: Not height adverse
b-whiteside   7/30/2012 1:36:43 PM
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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.

HelicalRobotics
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Re: Not height adverse
HelicalRobotics   7/31/2012 1:24:51 AM
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Beth, thank you for your intrest, we have looked at items such as light poles as well as many other items. Our technology can be scaled to this size with ease or made much larger than what is shown.

HelicalRobotics
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Iron
Re: Sealing
HelicalRobotics   7/31/2012 1:32:20 AM
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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.

HelicalRobotics
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Iron
Thank You
HelicalRobotics   7/31/2012 1:53:56 AM
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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 President Helical Robotics

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