WaterRobotStill1A research team at Sheffield University has recently developed a team of square robotic devices which are able to attach and break apart in water to maneuver through tight spaces. These robots can be used for a variety of water based applications from pipe inspection all the way to search and rescue missions in open water.

The concept of having multiple separate modules opposed to one large device offers many benefits to the robots process, allowing for more freedom in its operations. If one cube malfunctions during a task and falls away from the pack, other cubes will continue the job without issue. This allows less money to be spent when modules become damaged, permitting one cube to be purchased instead of a whole new system. Furthermore, because each system has a separate power source, it allows for more flexibility in the robots so they can break apart in tight spaces and re-attach when they are less confined.

The robotic cubes are constructed with micro-pumps built inside each, allowing them to travel across water via modular hydraulic propulsion, a process which requires no external thruster. Each cube creates propulsion by routing water through themselves, which can be done alone or in unison. With each module containing a motor, they are able to move faster when more are attached due to greater power being produced.

When detached, the cubes are able to locate and travel towards each other, in order to again reattach when in a spacious area. Self-assembly capability allows them to change shape based on the current task at hand, expanding their capabilities.

One possible application for the reconfigurable robots is inspecting underground pipes in areas not easily accessible to humans. The robots would give an inside view to any damages or blockage in the pipe without having to dig to reach the pipe. These robots can also be used for mining or search and rescue missions as they can be configured to detect and move towards certain items or light.

Robotic advancements that pertain to the mining industry enable Eclipse Automation to provide the best in mining equipment design, manufacturing, and build. Sheffield’s Reconfigurable Water Robots are just one of the many service and maintenance technologies that Eclipse can look into, offering you advanced strategic recommendations for your automation needs and ensuring you receive the best in customer satisfaction.

Source: TheEngineer