An article on the Super Innovators website, introducing Acuity Robotics’ Squirrel Bot:
Introducing the world’s smallest untethered robot that climbs ferrous infrastructure.
Acuity Robotics, a spin out company from the University of Leeds, has built the world’s smallest untethered robots for ferrous infrastructure inspection.
The six magnetic wheeled robot is called Squirrel and has the ability to catch data and imagery as well as being able to be fitted with an EMAT sensor.
Robot Squirrel weighs just over 4kg and can remain on task with one battery for up to 60 minutes.
Squirrel bot climbing mast in test setting
Its’ six wheeled design enables it to climb over small obstacles and operates vertically and horizontally.
The robot can climb a 15m tall telecoms mast in under 80 seconds and a large wind turbine in under 2 minutes.
Squirrel bot climbing up outdoor mast
It requires just one person to operate it who has a ‘heads up’ display that enables the operator to see what the robot sees whilst the imagery, any sensing data and the exact location of the robot are being recorded for future analysis.
This enables points of interest on infrastructure to be geotagged for future follow up.
Engineer controlling squirrel bot using immersive headset
Most robots are tethered but Squirrel is not which enables greater ease of access to infrastructure as well as being able to carry out rapid inspections whilst infrastructure is live and the robot can be operated up to 500m away from the infrastructure which removes operators from any high risk areas.
Acuity Robotics is now carrying out commercial trials with robot Squirrel and is particularly focussed on monopole structures such as telecoms masts and onshore wind turbines.
Engineer observes squirrel bot climbing infrastructure
These which are high risk assets for human inspection and are costly to inspect as often the infrastructure has to be turned off to enable access by humans.
Post successful commercial trials the company is looking to scale quickly to meet the significant demand for tetherless inspection by robots and will be looking to carry out a Series A fund raise in early 2024.