Design of a Mobile Robot to Clean the External Walls of Oil Tanks

Design of a Mobile Robot to Clean the External Walls of Oil Tanks

Hernán González Acuña (Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga, Colombia), Alfonso René Quintero Lara (Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga, Colombia), Ricardo Ortiz Guerrero (Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga, Colombia), Jairo de Jesús Montes Alvarez (Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga, Colombia), Hernando González Acevedo (Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga, Colombia) and Elkin Yesid Veslin Diaz (Universidad de Boyacá, Colombia)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4607-0.ch036
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This chapter describes a Mechatronics Design methodology applied to the design of a mobile robot to climb vertical surfaces. The first part of this chapter reviews different ways to adhere to vertical surfaces and shows some examples developed by different research groups. The second part presents the stages of Mechatronics design methodology used in the design, including mechanical design, electronics design, and control design. These stages describe the most important topics for optimally successful design. The final part provides results that were obtained in the design process and construction of the robot. Finally, the conclusions of this research work are presented.
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Robotic systems have been applied to tasks where work by humans has drawbacks like the possibility of making mistakes during repetitive tasks, low levels of precision in tasks calling for rapidity, risks of exposure to hazardous settings, or the completion of work that calls for the application of force.

One specific application of robots is the maintenance of tanks in the industry of oil and oil derivatives. These tanks:

  • Avoid shortages of products necessary in the refining process.

  • Ensure the continuous flow of products in the refining process.

  • Measure the barrels of product processed per day.

  • Allow the sedimentation of water, sludge, and other elements that come with oil that are to be removed during the refining process.

Because of the harsh sun, water, wind, and salt conditions these tanks are exposed to, damage to paint often results, thus reducing usable life. Consequently, these tanks constantly require both internal and external cleaning, wall inspection, and repairs.

This chapter presents the design of a mobile robot for externally cleaning tanks of hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon derivatives by removing paint and corrosion from external tank walls by means of high pressure techniques like sandblasting, hydroblasting and hydrosandblasting.

The vortex method, one existing vacuum generation technique, allows mobile robots to maintain a solid grip by means of a constant airflow that creates a suction that in turn produces negative pressure in this closed area, resulting in the necessary force of attraction between the robots and the wall.

Traction in the four wheels enable this umbilical-cable powered mobile robot to climb walls from the ground, controlled through wireless systems like Xbee.

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