Inspection Robots at Your Operations
Industrial inspection robots are mobile data-gathering systems. They carry measurement sensors and are designed to navigate facilities built for humans. The usage of this technology is rapidly growing, yet it requires intricate knowledge for new adopters to hire their first inspection robot.
If you are interested in using ground robots to automate industrial inspection jobs in your plant operations, this three-part article series is for you. It will equip you to evaluate different platforms, understand the industrial inspection ecosystem, and make informed decisions around requirements, applications, and suitability. Part one focused on identifying the tasks you want to automate. Part two focuses on enabling inspection robots at your operations. Part three focuses on integration, safety, and support.
Will Inspection Robots Work in My Environment?
Industrial sites vary in complexity, including stairs, multiple levels, Ex-rated zones, dark areas, outdoor facilities, and adverse weather conditions. The robot’s ability to autonomously navigate your facility is critical to automating inspection tasks.
Can inspection robots climb stairs?
People design industrial plants for people, and they invariably have stairs, steps, and other obstacles, such as piping. For large-scale automation of inspection tasks, robots must climb stairs and be able to overcome various obstacles on the ground. Ideally, robots have a small footprint and can move in all directions (omnidirectional) to get close to the machinery. Because passages are often very narrow, robots often provide a symmetric design to move bidirectionally, i.e., forward or backward, without turning around.
Different robotic inspection platforms are better suited to distinct types of terrains. Robots with wheels or tracks are physically limited to flat surfaces, while some systems provide so-called “flippers” that enable them to overcome moderate terrain with steps. Robots that move on legs offer maximum flexibility. These four-legged robots can climb stairs, and easily overcome steps, piping, and other obstacles, and reliably move in gravel, sand, grass, and snow.
Can inspection robots navigate complex environments?
For autonomy and safety in dynamic environments, robots need to perceive the world around them precisely. They achieve this by using Lidar, depth cameras, and sensors that cover 360 degrees around the robot.
The robot’s ability to locate itself and plan a new route when it encounters unforeseen obstacles is critical. Some systems can get ‘lost’ or confused easier than others and require additional artificial markers (AR tags) to be set up in the environment. Other systems provide advanced autonomy that robustly localizes the robot, providing reliable path optimization and navigation, even in adverse weather conditions and harsh environments such as the open sea.
Leading solutions are designed to navigate existing facilities and require no additional structural changes.