Researchers developed a slug-like robotic vehicle wrapped with a flexible, waterproof "skin" to keep it dry and dust-free in search and rescue missions.
The Slug Crawler Vehicle was developed at the Chiba Institute of Technology in Japan, which presented the vehicle at the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in San Francisco in September.
Enveloping the Slug Crawler Vehicle (SCV) with a retractable exterior skin layer protects the machine from the elements--particularly dust and water--that can corrode or damage the system in wet environments. Internal pulleys swivel from side to side to manipulate the tread-like skin and steer the SCV.
With the proof-of-concept out of the way, the next step for researchers will be to build a larger, more powerful version of the creepy crawly robot, and outfit it with better cameras. Although specific scenarios weren't given for the SCV's use, it's easy to see how future generations could be useful in the event of another nuclear meltdown.
Several workers were exposed to excessive radiation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami, damaging the reactors and leading many industry observers to ask, where are the robots?
Source: IEEE Spectrum