Abstract

Crude oil pipelines are always at risk of failing as a result of cracking or corrosion. Failing pipelines can be hazardous to personnel, damaging to the environment, and extremely costly. This makes it essential that all pipelines have a schedule of inspection and maintenance. Robots that inspect pipelines from the outside are preferable to ones that work from the inside, because they can undertake inspections without causing any disruption to production processes and can be put to work at any point of the pipeline. Nevertheless, external robots and associated machinery have several challenges and limitations.

This research proposes the design, fabrication, and testing of a novel climbing robot that incorporates a drone-like means of propulsion. The purpose of this robot will be to undertake detection of external defects and to monitor the health of the horizontal and vertical pipelines. This climbing mobile robot is intended to assist the production of new system that will improve pipeline longevity using a minimum of energy and needing little human control. The robot proposed is a modular one, capable of motion on vertical pipes, exhibiting flexibility where there are bends in pipes, can adapt itself to different diameters of pipe, and employs a robust quadcopter propulsion mechanism. The robot itself exists without inspection techniques; it can carry a payload of modules that are incorporated into the design that are able to scan pipelines for inspection. The suggested design has a number of features that will help it to work efficiency, including the ability to carry multiple payloads, the ability to cope with both vertical and curved pipes, the ability to adapt to different sizes of pipe, being able to move autonomously, and being able to transport health monitoring systems.

In this paper, a literature survey is presented to show the different types of climbing robots. Compared to the developed robots in literature, the proposed robot is novel in the concept and design. The design of the robot components is discussed in details and the robot prototype is illustrated. This paper focuses on the new mechanical designs for the robot and prototype workability. The robot consists of multiple modules, to include payload modules, suspension modules, and propulsion modules. The suggested innovative design is economical and can be easily installed. Several industries would be very interested in this type of novel reliable means of inspecting pipelines. Future work is presented to show the continuity of the proposed robot development.

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