LaserPipe - The snake robot that crawls through pipes and makes welding look easy

Interesting Engineering
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LaserPipe is a snake robot that can crawl inside pipes and fix faults in very remote locations. Fixing holes that happen to be located within pipes can prove to be a challenge for even the most experienced welders. This generally is due to the fact that movement is restricted based on the nature of the pipe and the location of the fault. Perhaps the welder's hand cannot fit into the pipe, or the pipe is located in a very inaccessible location.

laserpipe[Image Source: OC Robotics]

Given this problem, LaserPipe is an idea that was developed in a collaboration between OCRobotics and TWI Ltd with the aim of eliminating the need for a human to physically weld a fault that is located within a pipe. Unsurprisingly, the attention went to robots. Robots are very efficient when designed properly, but it can be tricky to come up with a robot that can travel within tubes and perform repairs as it goes. Thanks to snake-arm robotics, that challenge can be overcome very easily.

"The LaserPipe project goal was to develop a compact in-bore laser welding system and investigate the procedures for an all positional laser welding process"

The robot moves like a snake, making it possible to move in any kind of setting. What is also interesting about the LaserPipe is that, as the name suggests, it actually uses lasers to perform repairs within a pipe. This concept looks very applicable especially in industries, since they require frequent maintenance of equipment, some of which might be in very remote locations. It will be interesting to see the final product, and whether it will be very similar to the original concept and if it will work as expected.

More details about the LaserPipe can be found in OCRobotics.


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