Inuktun Services Ltd. (ISL) has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Recce Robotics International Inc. (R2i2) to manufacture and distribute the Variable Geometry Tracked Vehicle™ (VGTV™).
The VGTV™, designed by ISL, is a miniature inspection system that can access confined spaces underwater or on land.
Dr. James Plant, president of R2i2, says that his company plans to expand the robot's ability to inspect ducts, culverts and nuclear facilities by making it more modular and integrating different types of sensors.
“The VGTV™ is an exceptional platform,” says Plant. “We're going to increase the robot's utility by adding things such as thermal imaging and also sensors for detection of gases and carbon monoxide.”
For more than a decade, the VGTV™ has built a reputation as the go-to robot for search and rescue. It was among four selected to search the rubble of the Twin Towers after the 9/11 attacks and was also used in Hurricane Katrina.
“The VGTV™ has been used in search and rescue from the very beginning because of its compact size and its ability to get into small spaces,” says Plant.
Now R2i2 is looking beyond search and rescue to emphasize the robot's inspection capabilities.
“Buying a robot specifically for search and rescue is hard to justify so if the unit can be used for other reasons, such as inspection, then that's a benefit for organizations with tight budgets,” Plant explains.
The VGTV™ is a “shape-changing” robot that can carry sophisticated sensors into confined spaces over challenging terrain.
“It can lay flat and go under obstacles or climb over obstacles,” says Plant. “It can tilt its camera down even if it's sitting on the ground or it can stand straight up to use its camera to look over obstacles.”
As well, unlike most robots, the VGTV™ is “man-packable,” according to Plant.
“There are a number of robots where the company says that it's a portable robot but it's 100-odd pounds and takes two people to carry,” he explains. “The VGTV™ is unique in that it's a man-packable robot.”
“That point was really driven home for me when I was demonstrating the VGTV™ in Northern Alberta and I went to check out of my hotel room and as I was walking down I realized that I've got my suitcase, a laptop, a robot, a controller and tether,” Plant says with a laugh.
R2i2, which is based in Victoria, will be using ISL distributors to sell the systems internationally.