Helmeted workers in cherrypickers or precariously tethered to high voltage lines are as much a part of our power infrastructure's aesthetic as towers and transformers. In the next few years, these iconic silhouettes will become a little more... mechanical.
Tokyo company HiBot is developing a robot to transfer the dangerous duties of high-voltage wire inspection from meat-based humans to metal-based robots, in a move intended not just to decrease the likelihood of flash-frying technicians, but to make the inspection process — vital, now that many countries' electrical infrastructures have components approaching 100 years old — more efficient.
The HiBot Exliner, pictured above and set to deploy in Japan, is the second such robot, and the most ambitious: While the LineScout, pictured at top and currently in trials in Canada, only inspects one line at a time, the Expliner will cover four. And unlike their human counterparts, Exliner and LineScout don't even care if the lines are left active while they're doing their respective things, because they ain't got nothin' to lose, y'know? Also: because they're properly insulated. [IEEE via Make]