Michigan Researchers Develop Robot to Restore Power at Cell Sites

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No matter how prepared we are when a disaster strikes, there’s always a chance that our plan could go awry. Even when carriers bring in COWs and other temporary technology in case a tower site loses power, it’s still difficult for everyone in the community including the workers who need to get power back to the site. Researchers at Michigan Technological University are developing a team of robots that will be able to restore power to towers and other communication sites. According to David Szondy at Gizmag, “Currently a proof-of-concept tabletop model, the Michigan Tech robotic system consists of a team of miniature robots that use lamps and a flag made to wave with a small motor to represent cell towers. In a demonstration, one robot scanned the area for obstacles, computed an open path to the objective, and then navigated its own way. When it reached its goal, the robot then maneuvered to a docking port on the objective; in this case, a lamp. Then, a second robot came from a different quarter, but instead of docking with the lamp, the second robot docked with the first. The second robot hooked a power cable to the first using a magnetic coupler and then undocked and moved off, playing out the cable as it moved to a second objective, which it docked with, completing the circuit.” The team’s next steps for the project will be to adapt the system to larger robots.

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