Rope Robotics ApS was founded in 2016 with an ambition to automate wind turbine motor blade maintenance. To this end, Rope Robotics developed and produced the innovative BR-8 robot which performs leading edge repairs on wind turbine blades.
Since its first prototype, Rope Robotics has worked continuously to improve the robot and its utilization.
If a wind turbine blade fails, the entire wind farm closes down for weeks at very high costs (lost production). Rope Robotics, FORCE Technology and DTU Wind Energy wants to enable inspection of wind turbine blades without having to remove them. The aim is to develop an automated solution to identify damages at an early stage and thereby save the wind farms from costly production breaks due to close downs.
As the first in the world, Rope Robotics wants to combine its automated, remote-controlled wind turbine blade repair robot with on-site blade inspection with FORCE Technology’s Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) currently only used under factory conditions. The research involves a complex interaction between NDT, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotic technology. The robot will crawl the blades in the field, locate the potential (sub-surface) damages, and NDT will identify deviations whose consequences for the lifetime of blades must be understood to devise remedies.
This will enable a much-needed risk reduction in the wind industry: When a blade fails, if suspicion of a systematic production error occurs, etc., entire wind farms close down for weeks, at very high costs. Further, when parks are traded, the parties want to know the state and value of the assets (including blades), and insurance factors in unknown risks as high premiums.
The project will bring the research to TRL7 where FORCE and Rope, together and individually, can bring an automated robot with contact NDT to the market – FORCE early in the supply chain where it serves blade manufacturers and Rope in the maintenance stage where the company today already does leading edge blade repairs in partnership with service companies. The partnership includes a close cooperation with DTU Wind, a leading university in AI and wind turbines blades. Thus, the knowledge and solutions generated in the project will spill out into the entire Danish wind industry supply chain.
1st Mile’s Work with Rope Robotics
In 2020, 1st Mile worked in close collaboration with the Rope Robotics team to write an application for the above project for financial support from Innovation Fund Denmark’s Grand Solutions programme.
The project “AINDT: AI-based NDT for reduced service costs for wind turbine blades” was granted DKK 16.9 million, and work started in the spring of 2021 and will run for three years.