Senior Research Engineer | Southwest Research Institute
All Sessions by Branson Brockschmidt
October 20, 2022
How Different Types of Locomotion Allow for More Tasks to be Automated
3:00 PM - 3:45 PM
While there are numerous opportunities for task automation in unstructured environments, physically traversing these settings can be challenging. Sometimes locomotion difficulties can be solved simply, but in other cases, challenges may require an entire design process dedicated to solving the problem of locomotion.
Questions to ask during the design process include: What is the terrain or surface to be traversed? Are there hazards such as water, mud, or even electromagnetic or radioactive fields? How many degrees of freedom are necessary for navigation and task completion? What load must the locomotion system carry? What level of positional accuracy is needed? With these considerations, and many more in mind, it is important to understand various locomotion methods used for automating tasks in unstructured environments as opposed to simply sticking with a potentially limiting method because it is the known and comfortable option.
Over the years, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has utilized numerous locomotion methods in a variety of unstructured environments. In this presentation, SwRI's Branson Brockschmidt will present case studies for several means of locomotion to describe what the design process is like and how a given method can be decided upon. The case studies presented include omni-directional wheels to drive on aircraft depot tarmacs, treads for navigating uneven metal floors in a nuclear waste storage tank, an eight-armed inspection system to climb power line insulators, a tracked gantry for traversing ship ballast tanks, a foam vacuum roller to climb a concrete dam, and drones for remote inspection.