“XY” Crawler Leads to Autonomous Operations

As part of our self-imposed mandate to provide operators with low risk remote inspection solutions for in-situ assessments and asset integrity management, we’re always looking for ways to make things faster, simpler and more cost-effective. One operational challenge that makes some inspections inefficient, or even inaccurate, is the need to turn or steer a remotely operated vehicle. It is almost impossible to steer to a precise angle, so it is difficult to ensure complete coverage of a surface or area. So, what’s the solution? We think we’re onto something with one of our newest development projects… dubbed the “XY” crawler (ok… it’s still in development, but the real product name is coming soon, we promise).

This four-Microtrac™ magnetic vehicle is designed to operate on ferrous surfaces, in air or underwater to depths of 60 meters. The tracks are arranged as two parallel pairs (in a square), with sealed rare-earth magnet modules in the center. When performing inspections, rather than traditional skid steering or turning, the “XY” crawler simply lowers one pair of tracks at a time to drive in a particular direction; when the other pair is lowered, the first pair lifts up and the vehicle can then drive in perpendicular directions. This type of movement allows the crawler to cover a predefined grid of almost any size. And, with the software automation routines (also in development), this can be pre-programmed enabling the vehicle to move in a prescribed manner, without operator intervention. This level of autonomy will mark a significant new development for Inuktun, although we’ve already implemented some basic autonomous routines in our MaggUT™ - Marine, as seen here.

The first prototype vehicle will be supplied with the tilting high definition video camera and lights from the standard MaggHD™, but just like all of our Multi-Mission Modular (IM3) technology, it can be easily outfitted with a range of tools or sensors like EMAT, UT or PAUT probes, laser profilers or even cleaning brushes. The base model will be tested later this month on a simulated submarine hull to confirm the movement and positioning accuracy. If all goes well we will start working on a turnkey version with fully integrated NDT inspection capabilities. Check back with us in the coming months to see how we made out!

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