PHOTOS: Six Real-Life WALL-Es That Could Save the Earth

PHOTOS: Six Real-Life WALL-Es That Could Save the Earth
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Blade Runner

Hauling yourself up a 100-foot-tall (30-meter-tall) rotor blade is no easy task. But with more wind turbines being built to offer sustainable energy, there's a growing need for robust maintenance workers. That's where RIWEA robots come in.

In development at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation, RIWEA can automatically climb turbines and check every inch of the blades for surface defects using a thermal camera.

RIWEA also uses ultrasound to find deeper flaws that no human maintenance worker would be able to see.

According to the World Wind Energy Association, total wind-power generation, at 260 terawatt hours, now equals about 1.5 percent of global electricity use.

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—Illustration courtesy Torsten Felsch/Fraunhofer Institute
 
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