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article imageMicro-robots designed to work in dangerous areas

By Tim Sandle     Jan 2, 2019 in Technology
The British government is helping researchers to develop micro-robots. The multi-million investment is to help to produce micro-robots that can work in dangerous areas, like underground pipe networks or within decommissioned nuclear facilities.
The idea of investing in micro-robots is to have an array of devices that can go into areas that cannot be readily accessed, such as being sent down narrow pipes, or into the air, or seas, or for use in areas where there is a risk to human life, such as a redundant nuclear power plant.
Reported by The Guardian, Chris Skidmore, who is the U.K. government science minister, stated that investments to the tune of £26.6 million ($33.7 million) across fifteen projects run from different universities, would be drawn from the government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The biggest sum has been given to Professor Kirill Horoshenkov, who works at the University of Sheffield. This is to develop 1 centimeter-long micro-robots that will use sensors and navigation systems to detect and repair damage to pipes.
There is a further advantage that the micro-robots could present - avoiding disruptive roadworks. To examine pipes buried under roads normally requires the road to be dug up to allow an investigation to take place. The use of the miniature robots will help to avoid the need to dig up vast swathes of the road network, as well as providing more detailed analysis.
Quoted by Sky News, Skidmore stated: "While for now we can only dream of a world without roadworks disrupting our lives, these pipe-repairing robots herald the start of technology that could make that dream a reality in the future."
He adds, further expanding on the benefits of the research: "From deploying robots in our pipe network so cutting down traffic delays, to using robots in workplaces to keep people safer, this new technology could change the world we live in for the better."
More about Robots, microrobots, Nuclear power, Dangerous
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