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  • SkySweeper
  • By: Nick Morozovsky, Roboticist
  • Description: SkySweeper is designed to move along rope or cable like no other robot. Existing robots that inspect power lines are large, slow, and expensive. SkySweeper is small, fast, and almost all parts of the robot are 3D printed or available cheaply off-the-shelf.

    Hobby servos move the clamps on either end to one of three positions: either open, partially closed such that the clamp can roll along the cable, or fully closed such that the clamp can only pivot on the cable. A motor at the "elbow" joint of the robot is connected to a spring, together the motor and spring are called a Series Elastic Actuator (SEA), which can both change the angle between the links and store potential energy in the spring when both clamps are locked on the cable.

    Sensors measure the angle between the links, how much energy is stored in the spring, and if a cable is within reach of each clamp. The robot is controlled with a finite state machine controller programmed as a switch structure on an Arduino Uno. A lithium polymer battery powers the motors, sensors, and Arduino.

    SkySweeper can move along cable in multiple different ways. It can "inchworm" along by opening and closing its links and controlling which clamp is rolling or only pivoting. If SkySweeper needs to avoid an obstacle on the cable, like a support holding onto the cable, it can do a backflip to get past the obstacle, it can even keep on backflipping along the cable!

    Check out the video links to see simulations and real world experiments!

    Help bring SkySweeper to Maker Faire.
  • Project Category: Engineering, Science
  • Links to additional documentation: