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EU Developing Robot Badgers for Underground Excavation


A badger.

The European Union is underwriting the roBot for Autonomous unDerGround trenchless opERations, mapping, and navigation (BADGER) project, to develop a robotic system that can drill, maneuver, localize, map, and navigate underground space.

Credit: Animalia Life

The European Union is underwriting the roBot for Autonomous unDerGround trenchless opERations, mapping, and navigation (BADGER) project, which will develop a "robotic system that will be able to drill, maneuver, localize, map, and navigate in the underground space, and which will be equipped with tools for constructing horizontal and vertical networks of stable bores and pipelines."

The BADGER device will be capable of autonomously burrowing underground to create channels for pipes, navigating around existing infrastructure in the process. BADGER also will be able to three-dimensionally-print conduit as it goes along. BADGER's drilling mechanism will integrate rotary and impact drilling technologies, in addition to "a novel...ultrasonic drill-tool" designed to "foster pulverization of the rock" which the robot will siphon and flush out through its rear to keep the passage unimpeded.

The machine will use bio-inspired peristaltic motion for propulsion, and radar antennas, lasers, and navigation systems will keep BADGER on course and enable it to dodge obstacles.

From IEEE Spectrum
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