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Why sensitive robots?

Did you ever consider to use robots for the dirtiest jobs? The autonomous robot of the video below can work in sewers in Zurich. While walking, it touches the dirty concrete with its sensorized feet and decides which parts of the sewers need maintenance.



Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste and Touch! The 5 basic senses of a human being. To interact with environment, humans make use of one, or a combination of them. Some objects cannot talk, smell or taste. To inspect or recognize and manipulate these objects, out of the 5 senses, Touch and Sight are mostly used. When there is no visual information available the inspection is getting harder... but not impossible! By simply touching an object the roughness, hardness, size and weight can be identified. This information can be sufficient to recognize an object. That is what these guys in the video below are actually doing... and if you take a minute to think about it... it's really amazing!



The autonomous walking robot, is actually doing the same for concrete inspection. It is equipped with the sense of touch on its feet and identifies the deterioration of the concrete in the sewers of Zurich. There are thousands... and thousands... and thousands of kilometers to be inspected for maintenance under our cities. People would definitely avoid working in these dirty conditions. The robot is equipped with Rokubi force/torque sensors from BOTA Systems, that gives it the necessary information. Experimental results are shown in this publication [1].

Besides sewers and other dirty environment there are plenty of other cases where robotic systems can be used for inspection and maintenance. For instance UAV applications! They can go to places dangerous or inaccessible for humans. Bridges, buildings, ship vessels, pressure vessels, wind turbines, power plants are some of them. The omnidirectional UAV of the video below is demonstrating its set of skills for concrete inspection and other applications. By measuring the forces applied from the concrete, it can be identified whether the UAV is in contact with the walls or not and limit the applied forces. Experimental results are shown in this publication [2] and Rokubi force/torque sensor is used.



These sensors are ideal for lightweight designs and robots or other systems that are going to operate in dirty and hazardous environment. They have been developed to absorb impacts, measure reliably and they are very easy to use.


[1] H Kolvenbach, G Valsecchi, R Grandia, A Ruiz, F Jenelten, M Hutter, "Tactile Inspection of Concrete Deterioration in Sewers with Legged Robots", 12th Conference on Field and Service Robotics (FSR 2019)

[2] Karen Bodie, Maximilian Brunner , Michael Pantic, Stefan Walser , Patrick Pfandler , Ueli Angst , Roland Siegwart and Juan Nieto, "An Omnidirectional Aerial Manipulation Platform for Contact-Based Inspection", Robotics: Science and Systems 2019 15(19)

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