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Richard Croley

Phone: (352) 392-8929



Highly Configurable Robotic Vehicle to Inspect and Maintain Confining or Hazardous Areas

Effectively Traverses Confined Spaces in Environments Unfit for Human Occupation

This robotic vehicle traverses obstacles and navigates through confined spaces in harsh environments to perform inspections and maintenance in areas unfit for human occupation. Many enclosed or confined spaces, tunnels, or tanks involved in nuclear or chemical industrial processing are often too dangerous for humans to enter. Designs for robotic vehicles that conduct inspections, surveys, or maintenance in these harsh environments face a trade-off between mobility within the confined space and durability to withstand extreme winds or temperatures. Inspections and maintenance of certain confined spaces are not possible or incomplete because available robotic vehicles cannot withstand these hazardous environments while achieving sufficiently high mobility.

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a highly configurable robotic vehicle with a drive control system that allows it to traverse obstacles and uneven ground, move through sludge, and fit into tight spaces. The robotic vehicle can execute mission critical tasks in harsh environments and return intact for decontamination.



Remote controllable robotic vehicle with high durability and mobility that performs inspections and maintenance in harsh environments



  • Easily navigates previously inaccessible confined spaces, operating in extreme environments unfit for human entry
  • Enables precision steering and climbing, improving navigation in confined spaces and over obstacles
  • Moves on four flexible steering flippers, adopting various compact or elevated formations as the environment requires


This robotic vehicle enters, traverses, and operates remotely in confined spaces that may be unfit for human occupation. The vehicle employs a drive control system that governs four rotatable flippers, each with two wheels, which facilitate precise navigation and movement across uneven surfaces. These flippers each have three degrees of freedom to allow various movement formations. Tucking the wheels under the body reduces the robot’s width, allowing it to fit through narrow openings. Raising the flippers allows the robot to climb over obstacles or to traverse puddles without submerging its body. Likewise, rotating the flippers allows the robot to paddle through sludge in the event that any wheels become stuck.

Research Terms: Engineering > Mechanical Engineering
Keywords: enhanced mobility, mobile robot, remote inspection,;
Technology Inventors: Carl Crane
Shannon Ridgeway
Tim Williams
Technology Information URL:
University: University of Florida
Tech Transfer URL:

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