These robots crawl all over wind turbines so humans don’t have to


Aerones uses robots to repair, inspect, clean, and ice-proof wind turbines, and the Latvia-based startup just raised $38.9 million in funding.

TechCrunch reported that the funding was raised this month “from dozens of undisclosed investors.” And according to its SEC filing, it looks as though Aerones is hoping to bring in another $2.5 million.

The Riga-headquartered Aerones, which was founded in 2015 and backed by US startup accelerator Y Combinator, has a US office in San Jose, California. The company, according to its website, has serviced 5,000 onshore wind turbines and 12,000 blades in 19 countries to date. (There are nearly 71,000 wind turbines in the United States alone, so Aerones has a lot of potential customers.)

Aerones is working with 9 out of 10 of the world’s largest wind companies, including Siemens Gamesa, Enel, GE, and Vestas.

In April, the company announced that it had raised $9 million in seed funding.

It’s also developed an offshore robot prototype, which is co-funded by the European Union and is in the process of testing. 

Aerones’s patented robotic tech is compact. According to the company, it can be “transported in a single van,” and once it’s up the turbine, three Aerones technicians operate it from the ground.

The company says it “inspects and maintains turbines up to six times faster and up to 40% more cost efficiently than humans.”

Turbine blades can develop cracks or erode. The robots can inspect the blades with ultrasound scanning and cameras, and they can also repair them by cleaning and then applying filler to eroded surfaces or cracks. They can also apply protection coating to help prevent future damage and a special coating to prevent ice from forming on the turbines in colder climates.

The robots can also clean the wind turbines by power washing them with liquid detergent, and funnels beneath the blades collect the liquid for so it can be used again.

CTO and cofounder Janis Putrams said in April:

We recently released an internal inspection robot that crawls and scans inside wind turbine blades and provides digital twin inspection data with unprecedented detail, and a cleaning solution that removes dirt and oil from turbine towers and blades very effectively.

This short video demonstrates how the robots work:

Read more: The world’s first floating offshore wind farm turns 5 — here’s how it’s going

Photos: Aerones

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