What's your design for a drilling robot that can navigate tunnels?
engineering engineering construction robots
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13 days ago
Small pic existing drilling rig from london bechtel

Underground rail subway systems are in almost every major metropolitan area around the world providing convenient transportation for the public.  These networks of underground tunnels have all kinds of infrastructure mounted in them; like cables, conduits, communications devices, ventilation, and fire suppression systems, all which need to be upgraded and maintained over the years of operation.  In order to upgrade all of this infrastructure and mount new equipment to the tunnel walls you have drill holes--hundreds of thousands of holes--into the concrete tunnel walls. This is currently done by human-hand with a drill and takes way too long, we need to change this. We want to do all drilling robotically.

When any maintenance or upgrades occur in the subway tunnels the trains have to be shut down to allow for construction teams to get into the tunnels.  Therefore, typically this work occurs at night when the subway is closed down.  This still only leaves the construction teams 4 or 5 hours to actually work before they have to get out of the tunnels so that the trains can restart their service. 

Understand that prior to deploying this robot in the tunnels, a 3D scan/survey (lidar, laser scan) of the tunnels will be completed so that the robots can use this for positioning purposes.  Therefore, do not go into technical details on how the robot will position itself within the tunnel, focus on the innovative functions and features at a high-level.

Note that we can utilize passenger station platforms as areas for the robot to climb onto for parking/storage in-between operation periods – if needed.   

Rail Station Platform Details:
• Platform starts at 6 feet (1.8m) above rail track height
• Length of typical platform is 200 feet (61m)
• Ceiling height on the platform is 10 feet (3m)

This robot must be able to rapidly drill precisely-located holes into the concrete tunnel and mount brackets to the holes:

Tunnel and Robot Requirements:
• Fit within a 15-ft (4.5m) diameter tunnel
• Be no more than 9 feet wide
• Minimum speed of 10mph (16kph)

Please see the attached documents for more information.


Show us how you would design a robot that can quickly and nimbly navigate underground rail tunnels and drill quick and precise holes into the tunnel walls.

Answer the following deliverables:

  1. Submit at least one visual that illustrates the details, concepts, and functionality of your robot design.
  2. Mobility Features:  Explain your design. How is it powered? How does it move? Does it sit on the rail track, rubber tires, or both? How does it climb off the rail tracks and onto the rail station passenger station platforms? What are the high-level dimensions and features for mobility? 
  3. Drilling/Mounting Features:  Explain what concepts and technologies does your robot use to perform its tasks?  What are the major features that allow your robot to perform drilling and then mount brackets afterwards?  How many robotic components are there, are they adjustable, are there multiple separate units?
    Submissions will be graded on the following criteria:
  • Meets Deliverables
  • Creativity
  • Clarity
Additional Materials:
Top 4 share $1,000 Next 12 share $600
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