Small Spherical Robots Needed For Radiation Leak Testing

MIT researchers envision billiard ball-sized robots for use in the pipes in nuclear power plants. These small spherical robots could move through cramped tubing and send back images to engineers safely ensconced in a control room.

Harry Asada, a mechanical engineering professor and director of MIT's d'Arbeloff Laboratory for Information Systems and Technology, is aiming to address the problem with the development of a robot the size of a billiard ball that could withstand the pipes' harsh environment, travel wirelessly and transmit data on what it sees.

"We have 104 reactors in this country," Asada said. "Fifty-two of them are 30 years or older, and we need immediate solutions to assure the safe operations of these reactors."

Asada, working with two graduate students, is testing prototypes for a device that would be smooth on the exterior to avoid getting trapped in tight spaces and minimize the risk of breaking pieces off the sensors and other instrumentation already housed within the pipes.

Anirban Mazumdar, a doctoral student working on the propulsion system, said the team's approach has been to design the robot with interior chambers that can fill up with water, then spit that out in one direction or another to push the robot along the pipe.

SF fans (as well as fans of supermarionation) remember the early 1980's series The Terrahawks, which had spherical robots called Zeroids were used to fight the evil witch-like alien Zelda.


(Sargeant Major Zero and Zeroid 18)

I can see them rolling around in the pipes, protecting our nation from radiation.

Update: Robert Heinlein wrote about tagalongs in 1948 for use inside space stations and space habitats. Which were floating spheres. End update.

From NYTimes.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/23/2011)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.

Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but shows real promise.

IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.

DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.' - Philip K. Dick

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Superstrong Multilayer Metal-Graphene Composite Material
Negligible increase in weight increased material strength by hundreds of times.

Deepfakes Imperil Democracy (George Orwell, Right Again)
'All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.'

String Art Courtesy Of Robot Artist
The number of different ways to span a thread between a larger number of hooks is astronomical.

Still Wondering If You'd Work For A Robot Boss?
'This is all coming to you courtesy of the simstim unit wired into your deck, of course.'

World's First Autonomous Tram In Germany
What's it like for autonomous trams when they're turned off at night?

Sleeep PRO Earplug For Maximum Rest
'Merton... placed the electrodes of the sleep-inducer on his forehead.'

Inspired By Japan, Nap Pods For Hajj
It's always a good time for a nap.

Amphibio 3D Printed Gill Shirt
'... we can descend and live down there at one of those year-round aquatic resorts.'

How Do You Put An Asteroid Into Earth Orbit? Carefully!
'...she would have to be coaxed by another series of pats into a circular orbit.'

PD Aerospace Space Plane By 2023
'The sleek, tapered space shuttle lay immobile upon the private landing field...'

Foldimate Folds Your Clothes Perfectly
Look ma, my room is clean! I can hear you now.

Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.

International Space Station Leak Plugged - With Finger
'These tag-alongs search out stray leaks.'

Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but still amazing.

IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...'

ZKZM-500 LASER Assault Rifle
'The Iranian reached back into the locker and got a pair of laserifles.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.