Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news and events from TWI:

Subscribe >
Skip to content

SheaRIOS: Robotically Deployed Shearography WTB Inspection

Wed, 23 March, 2022

SheaRIOS: Robotically Deployed Shearography Wind Turbine Blade Inspection

The Horizon 2020-funded SheaRIOS project has developed a robotically deployed inspection system for in-situ wind turbine blades (WTBs). The SheaRIOS system combines shearography and robotics to improve health and safety for on-site personnel by providing semi-automated blade inspection.

SheaRIOS WTB inspection at the CRES demonstration wind farm, Greece
SheaRIOS WTB inspection at the CRES demonstration wind farm, Greece

The project has brought together expertise and capabilities from seven pan-European organisations to develop the SheaRIOS system:

- TWI (UK) Developed a laser shearography system suitable for on-site WTB inspection

- IKH (Greece) Produced a climbing robot, which is adaptable for different wind turbine designs and sizes

- Dekra (Germany) Developed a blade crawling robot that is adaptable for different types of payload

- LEITAT (Spain) Produced an embedded control system that facilitates semi‑automated operation

- CRES (Greece) Hosted field trials on an operational wind turbine and provided a strong link to the wind industry

- WRS (The Netherlands) Provided a wind turbine service provider’s viewpoint and was responsible for on-site safety

- EDF Renewables (UK) Offered an end-user perspective for remote WTB inspection, with reference to site safety and cost savings

- EDF R&D (France) Provided knowledge of WTB damage and failure modes, along with an the end-user perspective

Deployment of the crawling robot with the on-board inspection system
Deployment of the crawling robot with the on-board inspection system

SheaRIOS Operation and Benefits

During an inspection, the robotic climber ascends a wind turbine tower and releases the robotic crawler onto the surface of a WTB. The crawler uses vacuum assisted caterpillar tracks to manoeuvre to an area of interest, where the shearography system inspects the blade. The entire system is operated remotely from a control station located at ground-level, where the results can be reviewed. This approach removes the need for working at height and can prevent unnecessary additional inspections that may require costly blade removal. The benefits of the SheaRIOS system include:

  • Improved safety for on-site personnel
  • Sub-surface defect detection
  • Reduced inspection time
  • Reduced wind turbine downtime
  • More efficient use of resources, through semi-automated operation
  • Compatibility with other inspection techniques (e.g. drone-based visual inspection)

Field Trials on an Operational Wind Turbine

Field trials performed on an operational wind turbine at the CRES demonstration wind farm in Greece, demonstrated successful shearography inspection of an in-situ WTB and detection of sub‑surface defects in an on-board defect sample carried by the robotic crawler.

Full details of the SheaRIOS system and the field trials carried out can be viewed in the following video:



TWI has hosted two well-attended webinars that charted the SheaRIOS system development; the first was held in February 2021 and the second in March 2022. The webinars discussed the technical developments of the project, up to and including the successful field trials on an operational wind turbine.

These webinars can be viewed below…

SheaRIOS webinar - February 2021:


SheaRIOS webinar - March 2022:


Meet the Partners

Members of the SheaRIOS consortium will be available at the poster sessions for the following events to answer your SheaRIOS-related questions:

Event Date Location Website
Research for Impact 7 - 8 April 2022 Cambridge, UK

Home - R4i [Research 4 Impact] (

WindEurope Conference 5 -7 April 2022 Bilbao, Spain WindEurope Annual Event 2022 in Bilbao, Spain


To find out more about the SheaRIOS system, visit the project website, here.


The SheaRIOS Project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 780662

For more information please email: