About the project
It started as a demonstration of an idea to a friend, just a simple sketch on a board, but quickly turned into an exciting and overflowing with detail design. This was a creative challenge, "just for fun" to see if i could create a pneumatic caterpillar robot that can carry various sensors and cameras into tight spaces and pipe lines.
It was not made to be operational, clearly there are better ways to achieve such goals. pipe inspection robots exist in many technical fields and industries and the variety of models is impressive. the interesting design takes inspiration from the caterpillar. the robot has multiple "links" or rings of inflatable blubbers and a mechanical spring core. each blubber can inflate or deflate individually making the robot able to twist and turn. one robot can crawl in various diameters of pipes and could possibly be scaled up or down. crawling forward is achieved by a specific sequence of inflation that mimics the caterpillar's crawl in nature. although the original design for a whole robot was eventually neglected there was an interesting twist to that tail in the process....
This short clip demonstrates how a caterpillar expand and retract his links while creating the friction to the material he crawls on. this was the basics of the inspiration to this project.
The "twist" - an E.M.B.V
(Electromagnetic Bullet Valve.)
While the whole robot was known to be obsolete right from the start, some of its features turned to be useful designs. Such was the valve that allowed each blubber to be individually inflated. I've designed an ultra compact electromagnetic air valve. I needed a simple way to control the flow of air, and since the robot was dragging a power line and an air line this design simplified the whole system and saved crucial space.
implementing these valves meant that the robot could drag a single air pipe instead of many. the downside of it was that the robot was no longer a purely pneumatic creation, which could have been somewhat useful at inspecting pipes used to convey flammable substances. Nevertheless the valve found his way to other designs and projects of other students and friends across the world