Title: A probe system for cave exploration and pipe/duct system inspection

Authors: Chi-Wook Lee, John Paoluccio Jr

Addresses: School of Engineering and Computer Science, University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA 95211, USA. ' School of Engineering and Computer Science, University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA 95211, USA

Abstract: A mobile robot and an inexpensive probe system have been developed for cave exploration. A remotely controlled robot, which is equipped with a video camera and a laser distance finder, has been sent to inaccessible areas in a cave. The sampled images taken by the robot show the rugged cave interior with rocks, bends and holes. A new probe system has been developed to manoeuvre through the small holes and multiple bends, and over the rocks in cave exploration. A pneumatically controlled video probe device can be pushed along the walls of the cave by extension rods. One of the unique features of the probe system is the ability to make numerous bends and then to straighten out with the pre-stressed extension system. The probe is equipped with a video camera, a halogen spotlight, a small fan, temperature sensors, a laser distance finder and a mercury switch. The probe can flex 45 degrees upward and rotate 360 degrees in any direction. This movement allows the full view of the interior of the previously unexplored areas in a cave. This probe system has been used to inspect numerous pipe/duct systems, which are environmentally and structurally unsafe to be inspected by humans. Furthermore, it can be used to find survivors in collapsed buildings due to earthquakes or terrorist attacks before sending the rescuers.

Keywords: cave exploration; pipe/duct system inspection; probe; mobile robots.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTTC.2004.004756

International Journal of Technology Transfer and Commercialisation, 2004 Vol.3 No.2, pp.216 - 225

Published online: 07 Jul 2004 *

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