Robot Watch-Claw

Monday, November 01, 1999
Bridge inspectors will be able to abandon their precarious ropes and scaffolding when they work with ROMA. This climbing robot, built by Carlos Balaguer, Mohamed Abderrahim, and their fellow engineers at the Carlos III University of Madrid, nimbly navigates steel I-beams on bridges and sends back video to a human sitting safely on the ground.

ROMA has two arms with pincerlike grippers. The robot can turn corners by pivoting its whole body on its wrist, or flip one arm up sideways to grab a column and clamber upward. A built-in map of the structure, along with laser and camera sensors, makes sure every step is secure. Future versions of ROMA will be able to automatically find and report cracks or corrosion, and stay on the bridge for long periods of time.
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