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Students Build Ship Inspecting Robot

samzenpus posted 1 year,24 days | from the ballast-bot dept.

Robotics 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."

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Generally ... (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,24 days | (#44995765)

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

Re:Generally ... (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | 1 year,24 days | (#44996123)

Isn't that the "loose nut 'at' the wheel?"

I was just thinking, what if the hual is Carbon Fiber?

Re:Generally ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44996723)

If they're hauling carbon fiber, it'll probably be all write.

Re:Generally ... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,24 days | (#44996761)

What does that have to do with robots, inspecting ship's ballast tanks (which unless I'm mistaken a careless captain wouldn't damage), how dangerous it is for human inspectors?

Not even anything about how cool that thing looked rolling around corners upside down? This was one FA that was worth looking at, I was impressed. The video is a must-see.

editing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44995805)

Why do they need to build a ship to inspect robots? Seems kinda overkill to me.

Re:editing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44996001)

Reading comprehension fail.

Re:editing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#45003333)

No, writing comprehension fail. Parse the headline like they taught you in logic class, it doesn't say what the writer meant.

The power of magnetism (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | 1 year,24 days | (#44995833)

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.

Re:The power of magnetism (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44997353)

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.

Yeah it's not a robot as such, more like an R/C car. There is no logic in it to figure out how to handle anything. A key feature for a robot is that it must have a program to follow. Looks to me like the onboard program is to control the engines to work in sync, which on it's own isn't outstanding, though it is a lot more complicated than just turning on the power.

Even though I'm not impressed by "the robot" I am pretty impressed with the mobile camera platform. It provides some awesome possibilities and I can think of other places to use it than ships. There is just one little issue with it, which is reliability. If it drives into a hard to access location and it gets stuck, then what? Do you consider it lost or do you launch a major rescue operation?

Merrill Stubing (3, Funny)

themushroom (197365) | 1 year,24 days | (#44995847)

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

Kilroy (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,24 days | (#44995851)

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

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=10932011 [findagrave.com]

*beep* KILROYBOT WAS HERE *ping* (1)

themushroom (197365) | 1 year,24 days | (#44995939)

I think you're onto something and I wish I had karma to offer.

Re:Kilroy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44996015)

It's a shame you can only choose one category for moderation. For me it was a toss-up between Informative and Funny. I went with Funny.

Re:Kilroy (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | 1 year,24 days | (#45002291)

Next time go with informative. Funny doesn't give karma, and then people will get a chuckle at a funny post being marked Informative. Currently being insightful, I'd imagine people are getting the same laugh.

Re:Kilroy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44996017)

Thank you very much-o.

The time has come at last...

Oh boy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44995897)

Eleanor Roosevelt is not going to like this.

“We have reached a point today where labour-saving devices are good only when they do not throw the worker out of his job.”

Re:Oh boy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#45005129)

This doesn't replace the worker, it lets the worker telecommute to a very dangerous place.

Overhyped (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44995905)

1. This is not a robot. It's a remote-controlled vehicle with a camera.

2. The article comes right out and says it is not meant to fully replace human inspectors.

3. Ballast inpection is not actually necessary, since there exist ballastless ships. Only really large cargo ships have ballasts. Oh, and submarines.

My plan (3, Funny)

nytes (231372) | 1 year,24 days | (#44995913)

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!

from crayons to perfume (1)

themushroom (197365) | 1 year,24 days | (#44995967)

You could call your company "To SIRR With Love".

Sir (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44996041)

Does it come with a monocle, mustache and cane?

Fails on give a damn (3, Interesting)

onyxruby (118189) | 1 year,24 days | (#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.

Re:Fails on give a damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44996733)

They still need to do these inspections *some* times, and having to dry-dock to do some of the inspections is VERY expensive.

A robot instead of a dry-dock would be MUCH cheaper.

Re:Fails on give a damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44997525)

And don't forget how the legal system and the courts bend over backwards to keep the sorry show on the road. http://kmccready.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/rena-grounding-lancaster-kayaking-cant-get-docs/ [wordpress.com]

Re:Fails on give a damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#45000415)

International law limits liability for accidents (not purposeful or wanton acts) in order that international trade is protected. But it turns out that hardly matters here, which is why the court told him to fuck off.

The person in this case wanted somehow to be sure that they could pursue claims of tens of millions of AU$ for something that has, by their own admission, cost them no more than a few thousand AU$. That wouldn't have made any sense even if it didn't involve a ship at all. They're entitled to their losses, which are far smaller than the limit of liability, but first they'd have to actually show losses.

Let's try an analogy for those who can't be bothered to read the lengthy legal documents. Stupid incompetent Bill drives through Sam's fence with his new ride-on mower. The geese Sam keeps in his yard escape and the mower is destroyed.

Sam goes to the court and says "I need you to tell me whether Bill was drunk, and how he paid for this mower, because I plan to sue him for $50 000". "That makes no sense," says the court, "you're owed for the lost geese regardless of whether Bill was drunk and for a new fence ditto, where'd you get this crazy $50 000 figure from?" "Ah," says Sam, "that's the price of a top-end ride-on mower". "But you didn't lose a mower you idiot. Bill lost the mower, you're just out a few geese". DENIED.

Re:Fails on give a damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44998003)

You'd sound like less of an idiot if you knew the difference between "your" and "you're." Also, if you weren't saying such stupid things.

Re:Fails on give a damn (2)

Deb-fanboy (959444) | 1 year,24 days | (#44999153)

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 International Maritime Organisation IMO rules for the vessel. These are the rules which have been agreed by all members of the IMO, so this will include SOLAS for basic safety, and IOPP which sets rules designed to limit oil polution as two examples. The Classification Society predates the IMO regulations, it started with Lloyds of London in the 18th century, and soon after it was required to have the stamp from a classification society in order to be able to insure your vessel/cargo. The classification have their own rules and encompass all the major systems and structures that make a vessel sound. In addition there is the port state who can ask for a spot inspection of any vessel that comes into the country's port, and detain any that does not come up to scratch. Detention is the nightmare for any trading ship owner, so this is the stick that they most fear. Port state is informed of any vessel coming into their harbours, and if the flag state, or class society has any oustanding deficiencies related to the vessel, or if the flag state or class society are not top rated, then they will board and inspect the vessel, and likely detain it. Both Flag and Class require wide ranging annual inspections, and larger scopes every 5 years (on what is refered to a 'renewal' survey) Panama by the way is not a bad flag as they go, it is in my humble opinion as good as the MCA or UK flag state. Hope this explains how it all works, must go I have a ship to inspect ...

Re:Fails on give a damn (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | 1 year,24 days | (#45002335)

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.

Re:Fails on give a damn (1)

PPalmgren (1009823) | 1 year,24 days | (#45002957)

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.

Zurich? The seaport? (1)

dfsmith (960400) | 1 year,24 days | (#44996055)

Do you have to bring your ocean vessel to Zurich for the inspection? I see a problem there.

Re:Zurich? The seaport? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44996397)

Just sale it up the Rhine... I mean sail it up... wink wink, nudge nudge...

Title Fail (1)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | 1 year,24 days | (#44996249)

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.

Re:Title Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44996663)

"Build" and "inspecting" are not the only choices.
Perhaps "ship" is the verb.

An "inspecting robot" was shipped by the "students build"

Hyphens Shall Inherit The Earth! (1)

eepok (545733) | 1 year,24 days | (#44996349)

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!

Re:Hyphens Shall Inherit The Earth! (1)

tftp (111690) | 1 year,24 days | (#44996577)

(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.

Re:Hyphens Shall Inherit The Earth! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44999037)

e) Students build a ship that is inspecting a robot.

If you assume there is some missing punctuation there, then perhaps
f) "Students build ship" according to an inspecting robot
g) The build of a student ships an inspecting robot
then many combinations...

GIR (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44996497)

Will one be made of substandard parts, call itself GIR, and become amazed by squirrels?

Switzerland and its long tradition of sea trade. (1)

pipatron (966506) | 1 year,24 days | (#44996899)

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

Re:Switzerland and its long tradition of sea trade (1)

camperdave (969942) | 1 year,24 days | (#44997449)

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.

Another Way to Save Rich People Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44997847)

"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."

Not only will this put the ship inspectors out of work, it will help the greedy bastards who have enough money to run ships back and forth to wherever they outsource their manufacturing to. Praising things like this is praising the end of the middle class, and the rise of power for the oligarchy of the rich few who oppress society today.

Yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44998465)

I've been selling this since 2011. Where's my slashdot article?

http://robots-everywhere.com/site/robots/underwater/

Beware of malfunction... (1)

drcheap (1897540) | 1 year,24 days | (#44998743)

And when it malfunctions⦠You have a GIR [wikipedia.org]

Another pipe dream... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44998847)

"Project leaders anticipate that a per unit production cost could be as low as €4K," These are tech guys, not business folks.

That means, it currently costs €20-30K and will likely end up costing €10k.

Grammar is your friend (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#45001911)

Students build ship inspecting robot.

Students build ship-inspecting robot.
  Inserting text here to bypass the postercomment compression filter flag.

Students build, ship inspecting robot.

Students, build, ship inspecting robot.
  It's like Slashdot was built to screw up grammar.

Students, build ship-inspecting robot.

Students build ship, inspecting robot.

Ballast inspection, babe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#45004785)

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

That's exactly what I endure during searching for my gf's G-spot.

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