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Crawlspace Buddy

A robot to navigate crawlspaces and show video. A boon to pest control or plumbing estimators. Rather than dry suiting and taking pictures (homeowners usually have at least three estimates), one could show live video of pipe leaks, festerring sewage, carpenter ants, termites, racoons or mice nesting. Perhaps the robot could carry a stun gun to drive out raccons. It has to be able to navigate the "wild" underside of homes or buildings and be waterproof. It could have an articulated arm to mount the camera and poke holes to search for termites.

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How would you keep it water proof from the bottom, without blocking the wheels?
gypsy_fly (author)  Weissensteinburg9 years ago
Don't know yet. Real good bushings, I suppose. I imagine iRobot has them on the Swimming Pool cleaner model. A smaller Packbot might be more suitable for this application
The wheels on the verro are different though, the wheels on the create are half inside the robot, half out. The verro is only water tight around the axel..
gypsy_fly (author)  Weissensteinburg9 years ago
A small pool of water no deeper than half the wheel diameter wouldn't be too bad. If there's algae or mud, then traction could be a challenge.
You could use specialized seals, like the carbon and ceramic seals used to seal pump motor shafts and boat propeller shafts.
gypsy_fly (author) 9 years ago
I've tossed ideas around among the members of the Portland Area Robotics Society. The terrain would probably require as much agility of the robot at ones sent to Mars. It may not be just water. If the cesspool underneath the home or building makes the viewing difficult, then the robot has to traverse through the muck to get a closer look. Of course, the mud racking may not be necessary as the problem is already obvious. Yet another challenge is slope. The ground underneath our place is sloped from about two feet to about 5 feet. That would require an articulated arm to extend and a camera to magnify and focus on termites or carpenter ants. If some poking were required, then the arm would have to reach up a good distance. Here again, the facts on the ground, are enough evidence that there are wood borers above. The case can already be made to the home owner and a good faith estimate signed, sealed and delivered, on the spot. The cost of an estimate and the closing ratio would be the justification for the bot. Of course, my favorite function is the "masked bandit" search and destroy (destroy is the wrong word, it's not legal to hunt raccoons in our town). Scare them out and hopefully keep them out while I design stronger barriers for our vent holes. These very smart creatures have foiled most of our attempts to deny them a nice and cozy nesting area. Maybe having the robot spray their nest daily with something, like tiger urine for example. Anyway, it's a wild and nasty place underneath our dwelling and working places. I've been draeming up such a robot for some time now. Maybe this time, I can actually do it with some help and financing.
. For the contest, I don't think you really need a professional product, ready for the assembly line. I'd be pretty impressed if it just did the basics of traversing _most_ terrain and getting a closeup picture. But then, I'm not a judge.
gypsy_fly (author)  NachoMahma9 years ago
True. But it's the one project that has been in my to-do list for a long time. As for the all terrain challenge, it's something that I assign to my young students in my "Lego ATV Droid" class. One could say I've lived through the engineering process several lifetimes over. For introductions, I show the kids the challenges defined by a video of NASA's Mars Hill. It's pretty interesting what approaches kids come up with. Bottom line is there is a programmable controller on which to hang actuators. All the rest is a mechanical engineering challenge. I think model based on iRobot's hexapods would be quite interesting. I've often wondered how to make one crawl upside down on a pipe. Maybe I can call on Dr. Autumn Keller at nearby Lewis and Clark College and see if his nano-scillia extracted from geckos is ready for some serious inversions.
> make one crawl upside down on a pipe . If it's a relatively straight pipe, it should be easy. One wheel/tread at ~30 deg and another at ~330.
gypsy_fly (author)  NachoMahma9 years ago
The segmented snake pipe crawler always amazed me. That certainly is an innovative solution to welding underwater oilrig piping. Anyway, I thought of the scene in the Pirate of the Caribbean; Worls End movie where the Pearl was carried to sea by "rock" crabs. So I imagined the dish shaped iRobot sprouting legs and crawling up and down pipes. :-) gypsy fly P.S. Of course one could only dream of finding a solution for overcoming mass and gravity, which is the challenge for wall climbing or inverted bots.