A research group from Japan’s University of Electro-Communications has developed a mini robot that’s able to move freely inside water and gas pipes with a diameter of 10cm or more. The robot can climb up and down pipes as long as they are made of iron as it uses a magnet for its magic.
It’s equipped with a CCD camera, a LED light and a battery. The robot travels inside the pipe on four wheels, shines light into it and sends images it captures, for example of a crack, back to the user through a cable.
The developers say their prototype can be remote-controlled and is equipped with a magnet that moves like a pendulum. The vibrations it creates keep the robot stuck to the iron pipe at all times. The magnet and the pipe pull against each other, making it possible for the robot to smoothly travel inside the pipe.
According to the developers, the current prototype is just 11cm long and 8x8cm wide and tall, meaning it’s suitable for most water and gas pipes and eliminates the need to dig them up for inspection.
Via Nikkei [registration required, paid subscription]