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Robots to Crawl Under the City 94

Johan Louwers writes "Robots will crawl tubes in a short while to investigate power cables running in the tubes to make sure they are still undamaged or in need for a repair. The Robotic Cable Inspection System is developed by Alexander Mamishev, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington. Making use of infrared thermal analysis and acoustic partial discharge analysis, the robot will be checking mile after mile of cable while crawling his way in the tubes."
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Robots to Crawl Under the City

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  • Now we know (Score:5, Funny)

    by snarkth ( 1002832 ) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @08:57PM (#17394060)
    How the Sentinels got their start.

  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @09:00PM (#17394084)
    I, for one, welcome our new robotic underlords.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by beckerist ( 985855 )
      THIS IS NOT FUNNY! And no, no one has to say it. This site is perpetually headed waaaaaay downhill, and has never been one for humor (at least humor of the current decade...)
    • by aqk ( 844307 )
      In Soviet Russia, our robots make YOU crawl under city.
  • Damn... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @09:03PM (#17394110)
    Now where are we humans going to hide when Skynet becomes active?
  • by Grey_14 ( 570901 ) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @09:06PM (#17394124) Homepage
    I would hope they would make them easy to identify and track, Imagine stumbling upon some weird robotic beasty that washed out of a storm drain and thinking it's the beginning of the robot revolution or something, Maybe they could just write "NOT EVIL" in magic marker or something, that would make ME feel better.
  • Horror (Score:4, Funny)

    by SinGunner ( 911891 ) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @09:16PM (#17394202)
    This sounds like a bad horror-movie plot. Next they'll start coming up from the ground in some old people's home and killing everyone, and then the police get called in to investigate, but they just can't tell what the hell happened. Then more isolated incidents start to occur which leads the main character and his expendable co-stars into the dark abandoned subway tunnels to search for this menace from the underneath!

    The final scene involves a huge explosion or EMP burst that destroys all the robots but also leaves everyone in the sewer in complete darkness. Cut, print, that's a wrap. Where's my money?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by plover ( 150551 ) *

      Next they'll start coming up from the ground in some old people's home and killing everyone

      Nah, they won't kill old people, they'll just eat their medicine for fuel. Besides, I've got my life insurance policy from Old Glory Insurance so I feel safe, even though the robots may strike at any time.

      Old Glory Insurance. [google.com] For when the metal ones decide to come for you - and they will.

      • I hear that when they grab you with those metal claws, you can't break free, because they're made of metal, and robots are strong.
  • by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @09:20PM (#17394220) Homepage
    The SMART PIG [wikipedia.org] is used to check on gas pipes. It saves a fortune on using the old, dumb pigs that they used to have to force through the pipes to inspect/clean them prior to the invention of Magnetic Flux Leakage techniques.

    There is a pretty good SMART PIG display at the Manchester Sci/Tech museum (free) with an actual 80's vintage inspection unit donated by British Gas.
  • Making use of infrared thermal analysis and acoustic partial discharge analysis, the robot will be checking mile after mile of cable while crawling his way in the tubes.

    Well, since they're checking the tubes, maybe they can find the internet that Ted Stevens' staff sent him last Friday. It's all tangled up in there.
  • Finally! (Score:2, Funny)

    by sharkey ( 16670 )
    We desperately NEED something to keep the tubes clear. Sometimes it takes a whole WEEK for an Internet to get to me!
  • by MightyMait ( 787428 ) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @09:40PM (#17394338) Journal
    Here in Santa Cruz, we're currently using robots to inspect our sewers. My buddy made a TV show (on Community TV--like Public Access) of the raw footage from the sewer robot set to soothing music. Must-see TV!!
  • Reminds me of the repair spiders in Deus Ex. Now all we have to do is equip them with weapons and they can hunt sneaky terrists. Funny how all the classic conspiracy theories/times leading up to bad things in history are mirrored in our current societal situation. Makes you wonder if the signs always foreshadow the bad things, or if there are times where the crisis was averted and history just doesn't remember them.
  • If these robots can go into tubes, maybe when the internets are clogged they can help us out?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by cbiltcliffe ( 186293 )
      Well, of course! This is Senator Ted Stevens' solution to the quake damage in East Asia!

      The submitter must have forgotten to include that bit......
  • *sigh* (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joe_cot ( 1011355 ) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:02PM (#17394418) Homepage
    I'm not a paid member; can someone please tag this story "ReallyBadInternetJokeBait"?
  • by SmlFreshwaterBuffalo ( 608664 ) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:09PM (#17394442)
    Great, how long before they start using similar robots to check your prostate?

    (Ha! You thought this was going to be another reference to The Matrix/Terminator, didn't you?)
    • How about a Total Recall one?

      "Don't worry; it's self guiding. Just shove real hard. When it crunches, you're there."

        (and yes I know the movie was dealing with the other end of the human anatomy)
  • Yeah, those nanites are cute when they come home from the County Fair in a little static-free bag. Then they get bigger and you flush them down the toilet.

    Next thing you know, sewers are crawling with Hunter-Killers.

  • by Chairboy ( 88841 ) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:17PM (#17394488) Homepage
    Last year, my webpage describing how I did something similar (but spectacularly cheaper with the commensurate drop in ability) using some off the shelf electronics and an R/C toy was featured here on Slashdot, my first slashdotting!

    http://hallert.net/misc/tankcam/tankcam.html [hallert.net]

    There are other crawlspaces out there, get under your houses and make your own robots do your bidding!
  • by fussili ( 720463 ) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:17PM (#17394494)
    is if they leeched power from the cables at open nodes in the system and just roamed on a set path at all times.

    Autonomous little service droids, keeping everything working - now that's the future.
    • To build on your idea, instead of a set path, they should roam intelligently based on the history of the utility network. Areas that have required more maintenence in the past should be passed over/inspected more often then those areas which have required less maintenence.
  • Too bad they can't train rats to do this. They're ubiquitous in cities, they run off readily available biomass fuel, and they automaticly replace themselves when they wear out. Of course, I'm being facetious. Really, it would be nice if the robots could be programmed to kill rats too.

  • Sarah and Neo are gonna be pissed!
  • ...is how it begins, you know that right?
  • .

    "checking mile after mile of cable while crawling his way in the tubes."
    Why does it have to be a male robot?

    Don't anthropomorphize robots--they hate it when you do that.
    • checking mile after mile of cable while crawling his way in the tubes.

      You missed the more important part. Does he even *know* that he was volunteered for this task? Or he was simply not at that meeting?

      Oddly enough, today's post was brought to you by the captchka 'drills'. Those sentinels!
  • It's that time again!

    As many of you know, each year the Internet must be shut down for 24 hours in order to allow us to clean it. The cleaning process, which eliminates dead email, inactive ftp and www sites, and empty USENET groups, allows for a better working and faster Internet tubes.

    This year the cleaning process will take place from 12:01 a.m. GMT on April 1 until 12:01 a.m. GMT on April 2 (the time least likely to interfere with ongoing work). During that 24-hour period, five powerful tube-cleaning ro
  • All these posts about Skynet, Robot overlords... etc. Yes they're posting for mod funny, but really, this is just another use for our current technology. Theres nothing new in the way of AI here. I for one welcome the new model of robot slaves...
  • ...They are coming fast
    and they are hungry

    the tube-eating sewer robots!!
  • I worked under Prof. Mamishev on a different robotics project a couple years back, but heard about this one in class. Took me by surprise to see this on Slashdot, but it always looked like an awesome project.
  • "They came for the children late at night, while parents slept blissfully unaware. They were never heard from again..."
  • Hmmmm.... interesting.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham