Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pipe-Crawling Robots Designed To Find Earthquake, Bomb Survivors

Date:
October 4, 1999
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
After an earthquake or bombing, rescuers who climb into the rubble of collapsed buildings searching for survivors may place their own lives at risk, as well as the lives of unseen survivors hidden deeper beneath the rubble. But a team of North Carolina State University engineers is building a robot to help solve this quandary.

After an earthquake or bombing, rescuers who climb into the rubble of collapsed buildings searching for survivors may place their own lives at risk, as well as the lives of unseen survivors hidden deeper beneath the rubble. But a team of North Carolina State University engineers is building a robot to help solve this quandary.

Dr. Eddie Grant, visiting professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Undergraduate Design Center at NC State, realized that if robots could get into the building, they would be able to find survivors without endangering the lives of rescuers. Because pipes are often left intact when buildings collapse, Grant conceived the idea of a pipe-crawling robot, and he challenged his senior design students in electrical and computer engineering to build a robot that could navigate pipes.

Under the direction of Grant and Dr. John Muth, visiting assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, the senior design students created Moccasin I and Moccasin II, robots that can crawl through six-inch piping, using off-the-shelf components.

"The idea for these robots came when I was in Virginia at a meeting," says Grant. "One of the men I was meeting with had been sent in to the Oklahoma City bombing with a marine special force. He told me that the rescuers would have given anything to have a robot that could go in and find the people.

"When I came back to NC State, I realized that this would make an excellent senior design project. And the students met the challenge very well."

The most recent design, Moccasin II, is able to navigate a complicated course of piping, complete with 90-degree turns and vertical climbs. The segmented robot has the look of a cyber-inchworm and uses pneumatics to force padded "feet" against the pipe walls as it extends and contracts its body along the pipe course.

"The use of pneumatics for movement is an important factor because sometimes there are explosive gases present in buildings that have collapsed," says Grant. "Electricity would have the potential for igniting these gases so we designed the robot to use compressed air instead. This gives it added portability, as well. The robot can run off air tanks when there is no electricity to run an air compressor, and it is designed so that it breaks down into components that can be carried easily in backpacks to remote disaster sites."

Moccasin II is outfitted with a tiny video camera and lights that feed video through a cable to a monitor so its location in the pipe can be seen. The robot can also carry sensors that could "hear" or sense vibrations from someone tapping on the pipes.

The on-board video and ability to carry sensors into the pipes makes Moccasin II a versatile robot that could be used not only for search and rescue, but also for repairs on piping in areas where humans would be in danger, such as in nuclear power plant pipes or in gas lines. With other modifications, it could be used to detect cracks in sewer or water lines.

"The robot is very versatile," says Grant. "We are currently working on modifying a different robot based on what we have learned from the Moccasin design. Using compressed air is the key to making a robot that is safer in areas where combustibles are present."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Pipe-Crawling Robots Designed To Find Earthquake, Bomb Survivors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 October 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991004065839.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (1999, October 4). Pipe-Crawling Robots Designed To Find Earthquake, Bomb Survivors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991004065839.htm
North Carolina State University. "Pipe-Crawling Robots Designed To Find Earthquake, Bomb Survivors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991004065839.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins