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Japanese under-floor inspection bot announced

Cyrus Farivar
10.28.06
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If you grew up / live in a house that has a crawl-space underneath and were (or perhaps still are) the one who gets pegged for crawling under the house to run television or Ethernet cables, then this robot will come as a blessing. Our robot-breeding friends over in Japan -- at the Chiba Institute of Technology and the University of Tsukuba -- have announced the development of a crawling robot that can slide across dirt floors and lift itself over plumbing and other pipes. It's designed to fit spaces 500 millimeters (19.68 inches) wide and 300 millimeters (11.8 inches) tall, and a remote allows you to steer it around and shoot still images of your crumbling foundation (we also assume it can transmit them live to a display somewhere). Currently, the unnamed bot is only being tested on the CIT campus, but prototypes are expected to be unleashed by March 2007, with full commercial production coming by April 2008. While this bot doesn't yet (from what we gather) know how to lay cable, we really hope someone teaches them how, given that it's no fun to spend the better part of an hour crawling around under a house to lay an Ethernet cable, only to find that it's a foot short -- not that we're still bitter about that one hellacious day in 1998 or anything.

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