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 ")

Robot Garbage Trucks Visualized
'It was a bulky, shining cylinder over twenty metres long.' - Harry Harrison, 1956

Rippling Fin Robot Drone Swims And Walks
'... the curious parallelism to animal motions, which was so striking and disturbing to the human beholder...' - HG Wells, 1898.

Cute Teddy Bear Robot Favorite Of Hospitalized Children
'...thought had been given to its programming.' - Anne McCaffrey, 1990.

Robot Dog Learns To Be Doggy From Real Dogs
'So we took pictures of Guzub making a Three Planets, and I could construct this one to do it exactly right down to the thousandth of a second.' - Anthony Boucher, 1943.

 

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

TytoCare Offers Futuristic Home Care
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'

Powdered Regolith Propulsion
'... filling their great tanks with the finely divided dust which the ionic rockets would spit out in electrified jets.'

Ford's SafeCap, Opposite Of Niven and Barnes' Napcap
'In the napcap a client became an instant yoga master...'

Would You Get 'Chipped'? Michigan May Ban Employers
'Employees above a certain level were implanted with advanced microprocessors...'

Tesla Autopilot: What Does An Autonomous Car See When It Looks At The Road?
'Jeremiah is a sports-model to begin with and that kind is awfully hot-tempered.'

DNA Controls Swarms Of Molecular Robots
'They exist in loose swarms...'

Tether Asteroids To Save Us All
'If anything can glue the asteroids back into the planet they once were, magnology will do it.'

Blaux Your Personal Commuter Cooling Unit
A cooling unit had to be strapped to every commuter's back, by law.

3D Printed Damascus Steel Now Possible
'...lined with durite, that strange close-packed laboratory product.'

R9X Hellfire Missile With Long Blades Kills Queda Leader
'He was still roaring when the knife missile flicked past him...'

Would You Swallow An Origami Robot?
'Swallow it in an emergency--it goes down easily and works just as well inside as outside.'

Perhaps You Might Be Interested In Habitable Exoplanet Moon Real Estate
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Blurry Face Photos Made 60 Times Sharper
Perfect tool for blade runners.

SpaceX Will Build Floating Spaceports!
'...a single perfectly level platform, which rose so high above the water that it was not splashed by the waves.'

Fast Radio Bursts And Space Beacons For Interstellar Navigation
'Every beacon has a code signal as part of its radiation...'

Robot Garbage Trucks Visualized
'It was a bulky, shining cylinder over twenty metres long.'

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.