Robot Eels

Two robot arms with interchangeable tools, a long flexible body that can form a U shape for two-handed jobs, and the ability to live permanently underwater. That adds up to a new, disruptive robot vehicle for inspecting underwater pipelines.

One end can film the other end at work. Or it can grab and hold the area being worked on while the other end makes changes. The eel swims along under the ocean like a live eel, fully extended, and tools or sensors can be added all along the length of the vehicle. Eelume can change its batteries autonomously, solving one of the main problems for moving robots.

The body is constructed of articulated modular joints which can be added for greater length and additional functionality.

Its slender shape allows it access to confined spaces, and it doesn’t care about the weather. The Eelume can be remotely driven by a surface vessel, but it doesn’t have to be. It can travel autonomously and be driven into place. Communication takes place via ethernet link.

Since it doesn’t rely on a surface vessel, Eelume is cheaper and safer than vehicles that require a vessel with a crew for operation. A fleet of Eelume vehicles can live at an underwater docking station at an offshore drilling rig, for example, and be ready for deployment at any time.

The makers have a specific set of offshore oil rigs in mind: the Åsgard oil and gas field, 1,000 feet off the coast of Norway.

Live inspiration

Robots are often inspired by living things. Here are just a few examples:

Eels make sense, too. Living creatures have such a wide array of amazingly creative and practical designs that robotics engineers aren’t likely to run out any time soon.

In the meantime, contact us first when you need Rexroth electric motion control service or support. We’re specialists, and can facilitate factory reman or repair for Rexroth motion control devices, new or legacy.

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