h a l f b a k e r y
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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
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 :)
Spy Plane Suckers
[loonquawl, Jun 29 2009]
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]
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||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!
||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?
||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...
||strangely enough I think we have one of those in the postings somewhere, though the other was a dirigible. Can't find it though.
||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.