SmartCrawler: An In-pipe Robotic System with Wireless Communication in Water Distribution Systems

05/13/2021 ∙ by Saber Kazeminasab, et al. ∙ 0

Water Distribution Systems(WDS) are critical infrastructures that deliver potable water to residential areas. Incidents to pipelines cause water loss and contamination in pipelines. Hence, water quality monitoring is one of the requirements for utility managers to ensure the health of water. However, it is challenging to access all parts of the WDS since they are long and comprise pipes with different configurations and sizes. In this paper, we propose a size-adaptable and modular in-pipe robot so-called SmartCrawler that works based on wheel wall press mechanism. We develop a two-phase motion control algorithm that enables reliable motion in straight and non-straight configurations of in-service pipelines. The controller in phase 1 stabilizes the robot in the straight paths and tracks the desired velocity with high-level linear quadratic regulator (LQR) and low-level proportional-integral-derivative (PID) based controllers. The controller in phase 2 with a designed error-check submodule and velocity controller, enables the robot to steer to the desired directions at non-straight configurations. The performance of the two-phase controller is evaluated with experimental and simulation results. Wireless underground communication is a challenging task for underground applications. We propose a bi-directional wireless sensor module based on active radio frequency identification (RFID) that works in 434MHz carrier frequency and evaluate its performance with experimental results. At the end of this work, we design the printed circuit board (PCB) for the SmartCrawler that embeds the electronic components in a confined and sealed environment. The simulation and the experimental results prove the proposed robotic system can be used for in pipe missions where wireless communication is needed to communicate with the robot during operation.

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