Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Robotics Transportation

Students Build Ship Inspecting Robot 47

First time accepted submitter Hallie Siegel writes "A team of students from ETH Zurich and ZHdK have developed a prototype for a robotic ship inspection unit that is capable of conducting visual inspections of ship ballasts. Ballast inspection – which involves navigating hard-to-reach spots with no line of sight, often in the presence of intense heat, humidity, and hazardous gases – is normally done by human inspectors, and represents a significant cost to ship-owners who must pay for dry-docking and who face lost income when they cannot operate their ships during the inspection period. Because robotic ship inspection can occur while the ship is in operation, it could significantly reduce dry-dock time. The Ship Inspection Robot (SIR), which was developed in conjunction with Alstom Inspection Robotics and which uses magnetic wheels to navigate the I-beams and other awkward obstacles found inside ship ballast, is relatively compact and does not require any cables for power or communication, and thus offers significant mobility improvements over other robotic ship inspection prototypes. Project leaders anticipate that a per unit production cost could be as low as €4K, enabling shipping companies to operate several units in parallel as an additional time-saving measure."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Students Build Ship Inspecting Robot

Comments Filter:
  • Generally ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Monday September 30, 2013 @04:59PM (#44995765) Homepage Journal

    This largest problem with ships is the loose nut on the wheel.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday September 30, 2013 @05:10PM (#44995833) Homepage

    It's a nice tribute to the power of modern permanent magnets. It's really just an R/C car with a camera and magnetic wheels. The magnets are strong enough that it can drive vertically, or even upside down, on a steel surface. It's wide, with a very short wheelbase, so it can go around sharp vertical corners.

  • by themushroom ( 197365 ) on Monday September 30, 2013 @05:12PM (#44995847) Homepage

    The acting on 'The Love Boat' was previous art of robots inspecting ships.

  • Kilroy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Monday September 30, 2013 @05:13PM (#44995851) Homepage Journal

    It's really the only appropriate name for such a machine. []

  • My plan (Score:3, Funny)

    by nytes ( 231372 ) on Monday September 30, 2013 @05:23PM (#44995913) Homepage

    My next project is to create a Ship Inspecting Robot Retrieval Robot (SIRRR), to go in and fetch disabled SIRs, or SIRs with prematurely run down batteries. Of course, I'll also build a SIRRRRR, in case SIRRRs become disabled.

    I'll make a fortune!

  • Fails on give a damn (Score:4, Interesting)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <onyxruby&comcast,net> on Monday September 30, 2013 @05:41PM (#44996043)

    Look, if your in a first world country this kind of thing has a great deal of meaning as labor costs are high, safety means something and nobody wants to take an asset out of service. However in the real world the vast majority of ships fly a flag of convenience from a country like Panama and maintenance is the absolute minimum possible as those countries give safety and other concerns lip service only.

    It's why ships crews can work out of places like the US for cruises but completely ignore things like labor laws. Think of a ship (not boat) that doesn't belong to a countries navy, now google that ship and look for the flag it's flying. Chances are /really/ good that flag has nothing to do with the country it operates out of.

    Companies like Carnival could easily resolve their ship stranding issues by adopting maintenance standards used in other countries, but that costs money and they don't want to spend that. As long as they can pass the safety inspection to dock that is all they care about. Why do you think older ships get renamed and sold after every 10 years? After about 30 years that once glamorous cruise ship, might cargo ship, oil tanker or whatever will simply end up being broken on a beach in India because it's cheaper.

    Your talking about an industry that has spent centuries learning how to take advantage of international differences in law to avoid spending money on labor. Before that? There were no regulations requiring it to begin with. These kinds of companies aren't going to dry dock their ships unless they really absolutely have to, and then they'd probably rather sell the ship.

    • I work as a ship inspector. I test the control systems in ships with Dynamic Positioning systems as my speciality, but I also occasionaly inspect tanks, including ballast tanks I thought I might give a bit of general background to the type of inspections that go on with vessels, and who does them. In addition to the Flag State, there is the Port State, and the Classification Society, so there are actually three sets of inspections that can happen to a ship. The Flag State's job is to interperate the Interna
    • Maybe making it cheaper could push the equation from "cheaper to just sell it" to "cheaper to inspect and maintain it." I am fully aware that most companies will do the cheapest thing they can to avoid getting bitch slapped by the government, but if we can make the cheapest thing also the best thing then we're on the road to making the world a better place.

    • This has nothing to do with labor costs, and everything to do with idle costs. In the port industry, berth productivity is king. If we can reduce the idle time of a ship by 6 hours, it can save the carrier millions on that trade route through route optimization taking a ship out of the loop or via fuel efficiency on slower speeds.

  • Do you have to bring your ocean vessel to Zurich for the inspection? I see a problem there.
  • Either the students have built a ship-inspecting robot, or they have built a ship while they were inspecting a robot. Pretty good reason to RTFA, I suppose, or I'll never know.

  • Headline could mean:
    (a) Students Build Ship, Inspecting Robot - So some people came together to build a ship and then stare at a robot... Okay...
    (b) Students Build Ship-Inspecting Robot - Ah! A great tool! News for Nerds!

    • by tftp ( 111690 )

      (c) Student build, ship [an] inspecting Robot - so some students construct and send away a robot that can do (unspecified) inspections.

      (d) Students build ship [while] inspecting [a] Robot - so some students construct a ship while looking at an unspecified robot from various angles.

  • Ironic that the Swiss are doing this, one of the few landlocked countries in the world.
    • Ironic that the Swiss are doing this, one of the few landlocked countries in the world.

      Ah! That would account for the absence of the Swiss Navy Knife.

  • And when it malfunctions⦠You have a GIR []

"Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed." -- Robin, The Boy Wonder