Salt River Project Turning to Drones & Robots to Maintain Irrigation Canals

Published by , April 16, 2018 1:39 pm

( The Salt River Project is turning to robots and drones to maintain miles of irrigation canals linked by even more miles of ditches and pipes. The new method will make the operation work a lot more efficiently, as opposed to using resources to dispatch individuals, their trucks and equipment, to a remote location, said Mike Ploughe, a senior scientist with the Salt River Project (SRP) water quality and waste management services.
Assistant professor Wenlong Zhang and his team from Arizona State University’s Robotics and Intelligent Systems Laboratory are working on a quadcopter that will fly itself to assigned locations, observe and await orders from operators. The lightweight flexible grasper is designed by Zhang’s research partner, professor and soft robotics expert Panagiotis Polygerinos, who leads ASU’s Bio-Inspired Mechatronics Lab. In place of costly, heavy and rigid motors or gears, the grasper’s “fingers” rely on their segmented shape — and stiff or flexible areas — to curl when inflated.

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