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A new Israeli spider robot that can move inside tunnels, airways and even pipe ways might help locate survivors under collapsed buildings and locate problems in existing ones.

Technion researchers have developed a spider robot that is capable of moving through underground cavities, pipe ways and tunnels. It can search for survivors in collapsed buildings. It can also check for and carry out control and maintenance operations on complicated and complex systems in dangerous structures such as atomic reactors.Dr. Amir Shapiro, who developed the robot, together with Dr. Shraga Shoval under the guidance of Prof. Elon Rimon from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, said that this is a three-legged planer robot that moves by grasping onto tunnel walls.

The robot moves quasi-statically, by pressing against the tunnel walls while moving its free legs to the next location, explained Dr. Shapiro. We are presenting an algorithm called PCG, that is used to plan the grasping points of the spider robot on the tunnel walls.

He added that the algorithm creates a stepping pattern of the 3-2-3 type, which brings the robot from the starting point to the end using a minimal number of steps.

Professor Elon Rimon

The idea to use robots in hard-to-reach places is far from new. Two years ago a robot built by the American company iRobot for the National Geographic channel successfully climbed 64 meters up a shaft in the Great Pyramid at Giza and took a peek behind a closed door that had not been opened since the pyramid was built 4500 years ago. Although very successful, the Giza Pyramid robot was a unique one of a kind machine built for a specific mission, but the spider robot is of much more flexible design and will be able to perform much wider array of missions.

Iddo Genuth

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