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This student project from Eiki Martinson, Sheraz Wasi, and Mark Miller is actually quite old, by internet standards. These guys graduated from Florida Atlantic University’s engineering program in 2004, and this robot was their senior project. But this new photo Eiki just posted to the MAKE Flickr pool really grabbed my attention, as I thought it would yours.

The robot, intended for pipe inspection tasks, has “train car” construction with an unusual screw-drive mechanism. The first and last segments each have rotating clusters of three wheels that bear against the inside surface of the pipe. Each wheel has a slight pitch, and when the cluster turns, the wheels “screw” the robot along the walls. The clusters rotate about hollow shafts to allow for wiring passage, and are, therefore, driven by offset motors.

Eiki seems like a tremendously bright guy. He took undergraduate degrees in both electrical and mechanical engineering, with high honors and a couple departmental awards, and has since topped ‘em off with an MS/EE. His writing is clear, engaging, and often hilarious, and the telling of this project’s story is almost as cool as the thing itself. [Thanks, Eiki!]

The Pipe Crawler

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Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.


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