May 12, 2010 weblog
Simple Robot Climbs Through Tubes (w/ Video)
Last week was the IEEE's International Conference on Robotics and Automation, held in Anchorage, Alaska. One of the most interesting robots was a simple -- and fast -- bot designed to climb easily through tubes.
The result is this little device. It's simple motor turns an unbalanced mass at a uniform velocity. As the mass swings around, it causes the robot to bounce back and forth between the tube walls. Two rubber o-rings let the researches specify the exact contact points and increase friction with the walls.
Instead of using bristles or fibers, and vibration that moves the robot in a low-friction direction, the o-rings provide a little more control for the robot's operators. And, the design employed by Carnegie Mellon also overcomes another design flaw common to tube climbing robots of the past: Difficulty getting out of the tube. Because of the way robots designed with bristles and fibers use the lowest-friction direction to climb the tube, operators have to work against maximum friction to remove the bot. With the o-ring design, this is no longer an issue.
In addition to easier removal, the Carnegie Mellon bot also features a payload capacity of five times its weight. Depending on the size of the tube, this robot can move up to 20 body-lengths per second. The versatility of this robot could lead to a number of different applications, especially for those that require that quick navigation of 3D tubes.
© 2010 PhysOrg.com