Tight Leash, Long Lead – The Benefits of a Tethered Robot

If you are new to the industry, or just doing initial research into robotic solutions for remote visual inspection (RVI) and nondestructive testing (NDT), you will undoubtedly find yourself trying to decide between wireless/battery operated tools or a tethered inspection system. While each system has its advantages, for most confined space applications, a tethered robot provides the most reliable and efficient option. We discuss some of the key advantages here.

Inuktun NanoMag™ Miniature Magnetic Crawler

Size

IM3™ (Inuktun Multi-Mission Modular) technology enables access to areas that are too dangerous or remote for direct human intervention. This is accomplished through Inuktun’s signature small design; the size and weight of our inspection robots are reduced significantly by eliminating the need for an onboard power source. With a minimal footprint, our miniature magnetic crawlers and pipe inspection vehicles can traverse through narrow openings, congested locations, and extremely confined spaces. Tethered systems can also travel further distances and operate indefinitely, unlike battery powered vehicles which have limited mission life between charges.

Deployment and Retrieval

Versatrax 150™ Borehole Deployment

Our crawler cables incorporate extra strength components, so they can be used to lift or lower the vehicle during operations. For example, Inuktun’s Versatrax 100™ Mark II modular can be deployed through a manhole into the opening of a pipe or penstock without having to rely on a crane or arranging for alternative access to the entry point. And, perhaps most importantly, tether can be used in the unlikely event of a malfunction for the extraction of the system. Considering that these robotic workhorses are examining areas that are impossible or unsafe for humans to enter, a tether provides a lifeline for your robotic crawler. Tethered robotic systems can also offer better control and navigation than unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are subject to unpredictable weather conditions.

Reliability

Using a tethered system provides a devoted link for communication between the control unit and the robotic vehicle — whereas wireless systems can be subject to external factors (e.g. nearby electrical noise) or simply incapable of transmitting through some materials. A wired communication is the best way to ensure uninterrupted transmission for remotely operated mobile robots working in environments like tanks and pressure vessels, or pipelines. Real time data transfer is achieved for longer periods without breaks.

Inuktun MaggHD™ on Offshore Platform

So… what’s the downside? Tether cables are a pain. They can limit the ability to drive around multiple bends, they can get caught on debris or other objects, and if they aren’t managed properly, they can be a hazard (people trip over them!). We mitigate some of these issues by incorporating a rear tether monitoring camera on most of our vehicles. Plus, when using our cable handling reels and winches, you can ensure safe and reliable operations, and decrease tether wear and tear. Ultimately, when you’re working in challenging environments or confined spaces, the benefits of tethered systems outweigh the drawbacks.

We recognize that choosing the right robotic technology for your business is a complex decision – one that goes beyond quality, reliability and craftsmanship. We know it’s about identifying the systems best adapted for your precise needs. Why not reach out to our expert sales team for a data-driven dialogue on an innovative solution today?

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