Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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PowerCableCar

Powerline hopping cable car powered by powerlines
 
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This little remote controlled device can go anywhere the above ground powerlines go. It harvests power from the power lines by induction, and travels (for the most part) like a cable car between electric poles.

While it's easy to travel from one pole to the other, hopping between poles is a bit more problematic. I propose several solutions:

1) Short range hovering capability using a helicopter-like rotor 2) Robotic claws with magnets at the ends which climb over the electric pole to get to the next one [I am sure my fellow half-bakers are full of better half-baked ideas of how to solve this problem -- which is why I am posting here]

The uses for this device are limited by your imagination, but include 1) Inspecting the electric grid, sending back pictures, measurements, etc 2) Taking a picture tour of the country, going wherever power lines have gone etc.

It would, of course, integrate GPS, wireless communication, etc. to report back on where it has been.

WARNING: do not ever attempt to construct such a device. If you do, I disclaim all responsibility for what might happen during its testing and operation :)

cowtamer, Jun 29 2009

Spy Plane Suckers http://www.newscien...to-power-lines.html
[loonquawl, Jun 29 2009]

Baked! http://www.engadget...-of-getting-juiced/
Power line inspecting robot, pretty much as I had envisioned it... (I'm not sure how it gets its power, though) [cowtamer, Aug 20 2010]

[link]






       Perhaps solar power is a good idea. I was thinking of only indirectly tapping the lines by an inductive power harvester. The whole device, of course, would have to be covered in thick, insulated plastic. That being said, I put the disclaimer there for a reason!
cowtamer, Jun 29 2009
  

       I think getting across the insulators would be OK, but what if it meets another unit coming the other way, made by some other halfbakerite?
Ling, Jun 29 2009
  

       remote control is problably no fun job near power lines, but googleing for the words 'powerline robot inspection' hit upon many current plans, and some prototypes.   

       The induction-charging bit is propsosed for spy-planes: [link] - the detracting comments in the link show that the commenters were blissfully unaware of the practice of depositing humans on live powerlines for inspection...
loonquawl, Jun 29 2009
  

       strangely enough I think we have one of those in the postings somewhere, though the other was a dirigible. Can't find it though.
FlyingToaster, Jun 29 2009
  

       If they could deliver stuff...   

       Since they go all over the place and usually in a roughly straight line, they could be used to ship things over long distances. Presumably not things sensative to magnetic or electric fields though.   

       Though beware of terrorists ordering carbon fishing rods and selecting delivery with this method.
saedi, Aug 20 2010
  
      
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