Explorer-II Image One
The Explorer-II is a wireless, remotely controlled, wormlike robot that can cruise through miles of gas pipeline on a single charge, beaming image and sensor data back to its operator in real time. It's narrow enough to squeeze through a six-inch diameter pipe and flexible enough to wind around 90-degree pipeline bends. Here's how it works.
Of its 15 legs, six have powered wheels and can extend and retract. The rest center the robot inside pipelines of varying widths.
The robot's two fist-size brushless motors, one at each end of the robot, let it move independently of the natural-gas flow inside the pipe.
Inch-wide urethane wheels push out against the pipe's walls, giving the robot enough traction to climb straight up even vertical pipelines.