Robotic spider could soon be inspecting Japanese sewage pipes
According to Japanese robotics firm TMSUK, there's currently a shortage of sewer-inspection workers in that country. The company has therefore set out to streamline the workload for existing workers, by developing a sewage-pipe-inspecting robotic spider.
Known as the SPD1, the prototype multi-legged walking robot was reportedly created in response to a request from a road and sewage pipe maintenance company.
In its present form, the device measures 21 x 25 x 28 cm (8.3 x 9.8 x 11 in), weighs about 3.5 kg (7.7 lb), and is designed to make its way through pipes that are too narrow for people to explore. The robot is remotely powered and controlled via a cable that trails from it out to its human operator, who utilizes a gaming-type controller.
That person views real-time video from the SPD1's onboard camera, which could take the form of either a Raspberry Pi Camera Module 2 or an XDV360 360-degree camera – the advantage of the latter would be that instead of having to physically pan and tilt the actual camera, the user could just virtually pan and tilt on their own touchscreen.
The robot's "spider eyes" are actually LED spotlights and sensors that it uses to assess its surroundings.
And while a single SPD1 could be utilized solely to perform inspections, TMSUK envisions a scenario in which three of the robots could be physically linked together by a tether, working as a group. In this setup, the lead bot would navigate the pipe, the second bot would identify areas that require repairs, and the third bot would perform those repairs via a tool-holding robotic arm.
Plans call for the SPD1 to be demonstrated at a "sewage pipe survey site," after which its commercial availability will be announced. It can be seen in action, in the following video.