Anna Konda – firefighting snake robot

(via Engadget)

When I first read about this earlier in the week, I was going to skip it. It sounds pretty cool, but I wasn’t sure it was Blah-worthy — it just didn’t seem interesting enough to me to makeannakonda.jpg a post about it. But I’ve run into this news item some 6 or 8 times since I first ran across, it. So, when I saw it on Engadget while catching up with my news-reading there, I decided I had better just post it and get it out of my head. That said, here’s some of the details on the newest robot that’s not likely to someday destroy you puny humans in its bid to take over the world.

Try to picture a snake-like robot that can move into places that are too dangerous for humans to enter. The snake can climb up stairs, force past beams and twist itself round corners. Imagine that it has a built-in advanced water tap that not only can be turned on and off, but can allow the direction of the water flow to be altered.

. . .

The snake contains 20 water hydraulic motors that move the robotic joints – and a similar number of valves to control the water flow to each motor. Each module consists of two hydraulic motors and two valves. The outer layer is comprised of a strong steel skeleton containing the joint modules,which can rotate around two orthogonal axes. The joints are controlled by custom-built electronics.

. . .

The energy to move the joints comes from 100 bars of hydraulic water pressure. “This pressure is strong enough to lift a car up off the ground, something that again explains how the snake can in principle break through a wall. But both the hydraulic pressure and the use of pure water without additives in the hydraulic system have posed challenges”, Liljebäck says.

. . .

The steel skeleton and motors are being custom-built at local workshops in Trondheim, partly because the research scientists needed to take a novel approach in the construction of the water hydraulic valves.

“The lack of space has been a major challenge,” says Liljebäck. “We needed power valves that were small, water tolerant and capable of controlling both the direction and the amount of the water flow. The closest thing we found on the market that met the criteria was valves used in Formula One racing cars, but these cost NOK 100,000 each and didn’t tolerate water. As a result, we decided to manufacture our own valves and, in co-operation with a local workshop, we built a prototype from scratch.”

Wow. Lift a car or break through a wall? Maybe this snake will one day crush you puny humans in an attempt to take over the world.

[tags]Robot snake, Firefighting robot[/tags]