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Robotic system for underwater inspection of bridge piers

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1 Author(s)
DeVault, J.E. ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Kansas State Univ., Manhattan, KS, USA

The research objective is to develop an automated robotic system that will enable safe and cost-effective underwater inspection of bridge substructures. The system concept being developed is a semiautonomous robotic system that can carry a sensor platform underwater to detect scour, deterioration, or damage to support columns. It provides positional data and sensor information (video images) to the system operator; these can be verbally annotated while being recorded. The operator initiates basic commands and transmits them to the underwater apparatus. On-board microprocessor-based controllers automatically accomplish the detailed control. The primary underwater apparatus has a team of two identical mobile robots designed to travel along opposite surfaces of the pier while connected to each another by a cable and winch system. Each robot has rubber tracks or wheels with cleats and is driven by internal motors. Tensioning the cables that connect the two robots provides traction. The robots can move both vertically and horizontally. While each robot operates its own drive motors and cable winches, coordination of movement and cable tensioning occurs automatically through feedback between the robots and the control console. Multiple robots, evenly spaced around a support column, may inspect larger structures

Published in:

Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:3 ,  Issue: 3 )