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 ")

HEXA Robotic Help For Plants
Then some unknown race had chanced upon the dreamers and decided to "help them out." - Vernor Vinge, 1992.

DIY Robot Shoots You In The Face
'...there were automatic guns that fired ligamine darts.' - Michael Crichton, 1969.

Qoobo Headless Robotic Therapy Cat Was Anne McCaffrey's Idea
'...used as surrogates in intense dependency cases.' - Anne McCaffrey, 1990.

PUFFER Robots - From Philip K DIck's Second Variety?
'Across the ground something small and metallic came, flashing in the dull sunlight of midday.' - Philip K. Dick, 1953.

 

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

Dubai Scorpion Police Hoverbike Ready To Pull Young Kirk Over
'Is there a problem, officer?'

HEXA Robotic Help For Plants
Then some unknown race had chanced upon the dreamers and decided to "help them out."

Korean Tesla Model S Video 'Excelsior' Is Indeed Our Motto
'Improving man by bringing him close to Nature, while they combine the sensations of coasting with the interest of seeing the country well...'

DIY Robot Shoots You In The Face
'...there were automatic guns that fired ligamine darts.'

A Bayesian Approach to Safe Imitation Learning For AIs and Robots
Um, how about that pension for the humans who serve as the models for robot behavior?

Qoobo Headless Robotic Therapy Cat Was Anne McCaffrey's Idea
'...used as surrogates in intense dependency cases.'

Autonomous Cars Talk To Each Other At MCity
'My cars talk to one another.'

PUFFER Robots - From Philip K DIck's Second Variety?
'Across the ground something small and metallic came, flashing in the dull sunlight of midday.'

Russian Space Garden
'We saw the gardens, flooded with artificial sunlight...'

Targeted Neuroplasticity Training For 'Downloading Skills'
'I know kung-fu.'

U of M's MCity To Feature Asimov's Automatobuses
Should you turn autonomous buses off?

Crazyflie Drone Swarm Technology
'...Programmed to hang in space in a hexagonal grid pattern.'

Our GodBot, Who Art In Cyberspace
Vaal hungers! We must serve him.

easyJet Short-Haul Electric Jets
Have a little faith, will you? They're working on it.

Meet Assist-e Honda's Self-Balancing Motorcycle
'He had never ridden any motorized device that lacked onboard steering and balance systems...'

Kalashnikov's One-Seater Hovercraft
Not for windy days.

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.