This new research will create a self-organizing network of small robots that could aid in visually inspecting bridges and other large civilian infrastructure. As they create the network, the researchers will establish new design and performance analysis principles and technologies.
The networked robots could remotely and routinely inspect complicated structures, like the assemblage of girders supporting a suspension bridge. The robots will use wireless information exchange to autonomously coordinate and cooperate in the inspection, and whenever possible, they will report back images and key measurements to experts for evaluation. The tiny networked robots will be able to access tight spaces, operate under various weather conditions, and autonomously execute tasks for long periods of time.
The researchers are collaborating with Resensys, a company that specializes in remote bridge monitoring. Resensys is a portfolio company of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute's (Mtech) Technology Advancement Program, an Mtech VentureAccelerator graduate and a former UMD $75K Business Plan Competition winner. Resensys’ President and CTO Mehdi Kalantari (EE Ph.D. 2005) is an assistant research scientist in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.
"Designing semi-autonomous networks of miniature robots for inspection of bridges and other large infrastructures"is a three-year, $850K grant, part of NSF's National Robotics Initiative.