Wireless robot goes underground

September 2004
InTech;Sep2004, Vol. 51 Issue 9, p16
This article reports on the deployment of a remote-controlled wireless robot by Consolidated Edison Co. in September 2004, to inspect underground gas main in Yonkers, New York. The robot successfully inspected hundreds of feet of 8-inch-diameter, live, cast-iron gas main sections originally installed in 1890. The Explorer robot was developed by Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania robotics researchers in conjunction with the Northeast Gas Association, the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The robot has the ability to interact with a remote operator via wireless communication while it is inside a pipe. It can relay near real-time images of a pipe's interior, as well as other data, back to the operator who controls and views it from a streetside control van at the excavation site. Explorer can travel great distances from its point of entry into the pipeline. The robot's wireless communication range and battery power determine its travel range. Hagen Schempf, a principal systems scientist in Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute, developed the robot with his engineering team in the institute's Hazardous Environments Robotics Laboratory.


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