Robotic Science to help Restore Power in Calamity Ridden Areas

October 2, 2014, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Robotic engineering just keeps on delivering marvelous stuff. Its reach is far more than that of manual work, and we have seen how it expands its fields of operation.

The human race, often, finds trouble in coping up with the fury of Mother Nature, and when disasters happen in isolated areas, situations just get worse.

That’s when communication pushes its limits with mobile phones often proving to be reliable, so that the outer world stays informed.

This exactly is where the blend of communication with robotics excels. What concerns most is time. We ourselves may not be quick enough to reach out to the communication towers within time.  The terrain often proves to be a barrier. The robots from Michigan Tech team have been built to tackle these hassles.

blackout-robots

It’s all about team work for these miniature robots. You have two robots that work like humans, so as to bring back power back to affected lamp posts. Replace that with the mobile towers and we could visualize the way it would perform under real threat.

A demo has shown how a robot maneuvers to the exact faulty location to dock with the port on the lamp. And then arrives the next robot, which leads it way to dock with the first robot. The magnetic coupler within the robot hooks the first one with a power cable.

That marks the time for the second robot to leave the site in search of a power source. Once docked with the power source, it successfully gets power transmitted through the cable to the first robot which restores the power to the communication tower.

Currently in its concept stage, these robots are being programmed to expand to further fields, say for military operations. Team leader Nina Mahmoudian, an assistant professor in mechanical engineering–engineering mechanics, envisages such functions for these new robots.

The team work has already been documented at the 19th World Congress of the International Federation of Automatic Control.

The potential of the team work has cements further expansion. With measures aimed at adapting the system to larger robots, Nina and the team are also looking to expanding the system for underwater missions too.

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