Caterpillar Robeast bristles its way down unpiggable pipes

Bet you weren’t expecting that headline when you woke up this morning!

Researchers in China has proposed and prototyped a robot that moves along the inside of pipes by its own power, cleaning as it goes. Currently the way major pipes are cleaned or cleared is through pigging, which is basically shooting a big scrubber down the pipe using pressure and catching it at the other end. However, some pipes are “unpiggable” because of varying widths, difficult bends, and so on. This little robot could go where no pig has gone before and enable more efficient piping where it once was limited by pigs’ limits.

I like that robots are filling these niches in our world. When you think about it, the most useful robots to us won’t be androids or battlebots, but common things like Drobos, Roombas, and soon, the caterpillar that lives in your drain. O brave new world! [via New Scientist]