Issue 41 Unmanned Systems Technology December/January 2022 PteroDynamics X-P4 l Sense & avoid l 4Front Robotics Cricket l Autonomous transport l NWFC-1500 fuel cell l DroneX report l OceanScout I Composites I DSEI 2021 report

47 urban search & rescue and delivering humanitarian aid, he explains. He adds that the evolving work for the Cricket also covered the development of basic design principles such as reconfiguration and locomotion transition mechanisms for multi-legged robots, as well as analytical studies on practical applications. Most industries face the need for monitoring, inspection and repair in hazardous confined spaces, he says. Challenges encountered in such spaces range from darkness and the potential presence of chemicals, gases, biological threats and oxygen depletion, to high temperatures and the risk of fire and explosion. “Stricter occupational health and safety regulations, along with ageing infrastructure, require increasingly frequent, more thorough and more complex inspections and repairs of assets such as silos, tanks, pipes, access shafts, chimneys, boilers, manholes and underground cable galleries, to name a few,” Dr Ramirez-Serrano says. The initial concept from which the Cricket emerged was to develop new means of locomotion for autonomous and remotely controlled robots. A high level of articulation, versatility and reconfigurability were considered essential because of the diversity of the robot’s anticipated tasks, which included detailed inspections, spraying of clean-up solutions and the rehabilitation of assets. “The Cricket effectively reduces human exposure to dangerous and confined spaces by an expected 90-100% of the time a task might normally take,” Dr Ramirez-Serrano says. Moving through confined spaces Novel control systems are essential to enable highly reconfigurable robots such as the Cricket to move in three dimensions through confined environments. The success of these control systems, Dr Ramirez-Serrano says, has depended on three advances. The first involved breaking the whole- body motion and multi-contact motion problems down into sub-problems, each of which is easier for the 4Front Robotics Cricket | Digest Unmanned Systems Technology | December/January 2022 The Cricket is designed to adjust its configuration and style of locomotion on the fly to negotiate complex, restricted and shifting terrain (Images courtesy of 4Front Robotics) The Cricket’s technique for climbing vertical ladders is to hook its tracked ‘feet’ over the rungs and pull itself up with its limbs, every joint of which is powered by its own geared electric motor