Autonomous Robots Could Repair Electrical Networks in a Power Outage
Michigan Tech researchers are developing a team of robots that can autonomously rebuild electrical networks in the event the power gets knocked out.
The robots map out obstacles and string together power lines all on their own. They can carry their own batteries, or could be outfitted with generators or solar cells to recharge themselves and other robots on the team.
The researchers think their robots might one day navigate a damaged cell tower site to restore cellular service after a natural disaster; or coordinate with search-and-rescue robots to quickly recharge their power supplies.
The idea that robots can access places it’s difficult or dangerous for humans to get to has been something of a driving concept behind a lot of robotics development. Many of the robots we’ve covered are designed to, say, investigate crime scenes or fight fires without putting any humans in harm’s way.
The Michigan Tech team’s next step is a full-size system that ditches the scale model tests for real-world scenarios.
They’ve also presented findings at the International Federation of Automatic Control, a robotics and engineering conference that wrapped up last month in South Africa.
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