Saturday, September 16, 2006

Diagnostic Repair Drones

The automation of the inspection of structures will reduce the cost, improve safety and prevent catastrophic failures. It will also allow the inspection of areas that are too hazardous for human inspectors, like inside a nuclear reactor.

Professor Gordon Hayward at the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering
of the University of Strathclyde in Scotland is leading a project to equipt small robots with sensors for structural inspection. The robot s would work as a team and with a central computer to crawl over a structure and autonomously perform non-destructive evaluation (NDE) and report back the findings.
The robots could be trained to change their routine if they find a suspected flaw. They could call for help, start a more detailed inspection or send back more detailed data.

The protoype robots are about 10 cm square (4 in) and have visual, ultrasonic and magnetic field sensors. More work is needed to get the size down and to provide the robots with longer life power sources.

It seems that their goal is to make the robots much smaller than, for example, the DRD's that run around on the spaceship Moya from Farscape.

The Scotsman - Sci-Tech - Robots hailed as safety solution


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