Work on the (HUMRS) began in July 2020. The university’s robotics lab began by adapting water-resistant modules it had used in the past to allow the robot to operate in less than ideal conditions. . They then added a series of turbines and thrusters so that it could move underwater. Work on the project evolved rapidly, with HUMRS making its first swim in a CMU pool last March.
The Institute of Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) – not to be confused with some other ARMS – helped fund this latest version of the robot snake. The Robotics Lab envisions organizations like the US Navy using it to inspect ships and submarines when they are away from a port. As it stands, the crews of warships have few options when their gear is damaged. They must either wait for a team of divers to come on site or return to dry dock. Either way, it’s something that costs time and money.
“If they can get this information before the ship enters a home port or dry dock, it saves weeks or months in a maintenance schedule,” said Matt Fischer, the one of the researchers who worked on the project. “And in turn, it saves money.”
The small size and flexibility of HUMRS also means it can navigate areas such as pipes where a more traditional remote submersible would have a hard time doing. Apart from military use, he could also find inspection work for pipes, tanks and offshore platforms.