Spiderbot II A climbing robot for industrial inspection

Spiderbot II is a new climbing robot developed in cooperation with Automation Service srl, in the framework of a regional research project. The aim of the project is to realize a prototype of climbing robot, able to work in harsh industrial environment. The robot can perform NDI (Non Destructive Inspection) using different moving video cameras and other sensors (like gas sensor), while a remote operator can drive the robot and read on-board sensors from a base station placed in a safe area. The video cameras images are sent over an analog RF channel in the 2.4GHz band. The main structure of the robot is based on the same principle of the Spiderbot robot (developed in past research activities) and is composed by two sliding frames pneumatically actuated. The internal frame can slide and rotate with respect the external one. Each frame has four standard suction cup for adhesion to any kind of non-porous surfaces with medium-low roughness. The suction cup are suited for harsh environment like oily, scratched or dusty surfaces. Moreover they are also pneumatically actuated, to allow robot steps. The entire structure is built aluminum alloy and weights about 20 kg. The actual payload is about 5 kg. With respect to the Spiderbot project, the new system has been better designed as regards gripping and payload specification. Moreover robustness of the communication protocol over an RS485 channel between robot and base station has been improved.

The base station is actually composed by a standard PC with an RS485 serial interface, a software that allows to control the whole system, a monitor with analog input to show robot cameras images, a joystick that allows friendly user interface, a 6 bar compressed air source and a low voltage power supply system for the robot. The connection between robot and base station is optimized for about 30 m length. Different test over real surfaces have been performed in indoor as well as outdoor environment.

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