Remote-controlled robot uses thermal imaging to detect and eradicate termites
May 8, 2007 Hasta la vista, termites. Due for release later this year, the Termibot carries video and thermal imaging cameras where human pest controllers can't go. When a telltale heat or moisture signature is detected, Termicam breaks termite nests open to confirm the infestation, then pumps pest control chemicals directly into the source. It's an ingenious non-invasive pest control device - but its appeal won't be limited to exterminators.
The Termibot is the brainchild of David Rice, whose Termicam business has been built and franchised around the world on the effectiveness of thermal imaging as a non-invasive way of pinpointing termite activity, as opposed to more traditional methods such as tapping walls with a screwdriver head or pulling walls apart to search for the insects.
Termicam's thermal imaging techniques have proven very effective in many applications, but still couldn't be of assistance in spots where human operators couldn't get to - such as beneath subfloors and down narrow ducting. Thus the Termibot was born.
"It's basically a remote controlled robot that can fit into confined spaces," says Rice, "it carries a video camera and lights so the operator can see where it's going and steer it around obstacles. It can go over on a fairly good angle and right itself if necessary." When the thermal or moisture signature of a termite hotspot is detected on one of the device's two LCD screens, the Termibot uses a probe to break open the termite nest, exposing and video recording the insects as they scuttle to repair the breach. The operator is then able to inject pest control poisons directly into the termite colony, an effective eradication leaving minimal toxic chemicals around the area in comparison to spraying.
"It's currently controlled via a long cable," Rice tells us, "but we'll have it fully remote once we've finished further testing. We're currently field testing it under houses, it's available to all our franchises but because we're busy expanding and franchising around the world, it won't be ready to go to market until later in the year."
Rice says he's already had several enquiries from outside the pest control industry; the remote control thermal camera will be of interest to anyone who needs to use thermal imaging in confined spaces. Once client in Brunei is looking at having it lightly modified to act as an air conditioning duct cleaner, and Rice sees applications for the Termibot in sewage and water tunnel investigations, electrical equipment testing, military and bomb disposal applications, and even search and rescue to detect the heat signatures of people trapped under snow or rubble.