Pipe crawling snake robot is a masterpiece of a senior project

Here’s an oldie but a goodie: [Eiki], [Mark], and [Sheraz] built a pipe crawling robot for their senior engineering project at Florida Atlantic University way back in 2004. Despite being a rather old build, its aged well and still demonstrates the clever ways the guys overcame some engineering obstacles.

The original plan for the pipe crawler was to mount three spring-loaded wheels 120° apart at the fore and aft of each robot section. Six independent wheels for each section of the robot is overly complex, and too much for a single operator to control; the team moved on to a ‘screw drive’ system where each wheel is canted forward a few degrees. This drive system propels the snakebot along by simply spinning, although it does bring in a few challenges all its own.

The robot had separate sections consisting to house a motor, camera, and electronics, so a way to pass wires through a rotating shaft was needed. This came in the form of a few pairs of incredibly small ball bearings around a hollow shaft. After the mechanical portion of the build was finished, the team moved on to the electronic part where an IMU was built out of three small gyroscope sensors mounted perpendicularly to each other.

Sadly, there are no videos of the inside of a sewage pipe from the pipe crawler’s point of view, but YouTube wasn’t launched until a year after this project was finished.


Snake Bot

sb head (Custom)

[Husstech] wrote in to share his Snake Bot with us. Initially inspired by this post about SickSack, a snake bot, he set out to build his own version. While the concept and even the design aren’t particularly new or groundbreaking, he is very thorough in his documentation. Since this was a project for school, the PDF of his project includes research, schematics, cost breakdowns, and results. We really like the camera and head design, it looks very insect like. You can see a video of the final version being shown off after the break, or you can see an earlier version that is decidedly more phallic.

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SickSack: ATMega servo snake robot

[Lars] sent in this sweet snake robot that he and [Aske] built for the DTU Robocup. I’ve seen snake bots before, but I like the concept and the clean electronic design. They used a single AtMega32 controller to generate PWM signals for each of the eight servos, and used a very interesting DC-DC buck converter that’s capable of delivering 16 amps.

For the curious, the bot won the best design and effects award at the competition.