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Design of a Multi-Segmented Magnetic Robot for Hull Inspection
SPACE AND NAVAL WARFARE SYSTEMS CENTER PACIFIC SAN DIEGO CA
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The use of a hull-climbing robot is proposed to assist hull surveyors in their inspection tasks, reducing cost and risk to personnel. A novel multi-segmented hull-climbing robot with magnetic wheels is introduced in which multiple two-wheeled modular segments are adjoined by flexible linkages. Compared to traditional rigid-body tracked magnetic robots that tend to detach easily in the presence of surface discontinuities, the segmented design adapts to such discontinuities with improved adhesion to the ferrous surface. Coordinated mobility is achieved with the use of a motion-control algorithm that estimates robot pose through position sensors located in each segment and linkage in order to optimally command each of the drive motors of the system. Self-powered segments and an onboard radio allow for wireless transmission of video and control data between the robot and its operator control unit. The modular-design approach of the system is highly suited for upgrading or adding segments as needed. For example, enhancing the system with a segment that supports an ultrasonic measurement device used to measure hull-thickness of corroded sites can help minimize the number of areas that a surveyor must personally visit for further inspection and repair. Future development efforts may lead to the design of autonomy segments that accept high-level commands from the operator, and automatically execute wide-area inspections. It is also foreseeable that with several multi-segmented robots, a coordinated inspection task can take place in parallel, significantly reducing inspection time and cost.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE