Schools search and rescue robot winner
TransDev gets to grips for schools search and rescue robot winner. Poole based Transmission Developments (TransDev) has helped Andrew Cowan, a student at Sutton Grammar School, to win a top prize at the recently held finals of the National Science and Engineering Competition for his novel and low-cost, search and rescue robot. Year 11 scholar Andrew’s tracked robot uses TransDev’s BRECOflex ® ATK10 series timing belts with special Linatex® high grip bonded backings and matching pulleys to provide the robots’ traction which has been thoroughly tested by towing a car during field trials.
The radio controlled robot won the Engineering Technology prize in the intermediate 15 – 16 year age category with fierce competition from 190 projects amongst 346 UK wide competitors,. His own design brief was to produce a cheaper alternative to existing search and rescue robots built for bomb disposal work which are too expensive for other potential users such as local fire and rescue services or earthquake emergency response teams. The robot’s equipment complement includes sensors to detect oxygen levels and flammable gases and a special camera system with infrared and normal LED lighting to help locate victims, even in the dark. In addition an ultrasonic radar system traces a 2D map of the immediate area and the vehicle is equipped with a towing hook to remove large objects such as rubble from the disaster zone.
TransDev worked closely with Andrew Cowan and teaching staff at the school as a project sponsor, providing applications expertise as well as the belting and pulley components. The simplicity of using timing belts with bonded high friction backings proved a low-cost yet effective solution for the robots’ traction. Although the application is somewhat ‘off the wall’ even for TransDev, the Poole based power transmission component manufacturer and supplier is quite used to customised belt solutions for powertrains, parts and materials handling, and to solve complex processing problems.
BRECOflex ® ATK 10 series polyurethane belts feature a central V-guide for guaranteed self- tracking, enabling the use of low profile flangeless pulleys that do not protrude above the belt line which was important for the search and rescue robot’s tracks. Used in demanding applications ranging from conveyors to high speed and high torque engine power transmission systems, these heavy duty belts are part of the BRECOflex POWER range and include continuous helical tension members with ‘S+Z’ twist to further reduce belt run-off and heavy side loads on flanges. For the robot, a jointed belt was used although endless belt versions are also available.
The natural rubber Linatex® belt backing is one of several materials that can be adhesive bonded to TransDev’s range of polyurethane and rubber belts with toothed, vee or flat profiles. Linatex® is often used to restrict slippage of products in conveying systems but other bonded materials such as Supergrip can provide a ribbed higher friction surface where an incline or diagonal conveyor is used. Alternative bonded backings are available to provide other surface characteristics such as extremely smooth low friction facings to allow slippage or highly durable materials where maximum resilience and low wear rates are important.
As well as adhesive bonded techniques, TransDev also offer an in-house vulcanising process using a high vacuum autoclave that offers a wide range of belt facing materials with increased resilience and a seam free bond. This process is particularly suited to applications with fast reversals to remove any tendency for material delamination . In addition, extensive in house machining facilities are available to produce belts with flights, pockets, slots and holes for belt lengths up to 70 metres and widths to 600 mm.
Andrew’s success in the competition has resulted in his selection to represent the UK in the European Union Contest for Young Scientists that is taking place in Lisbon – Portugal in for five days in September. Only three people are selected from each country, so it’s quite an achievement and TransDev are keeping fingers crossed for him. Details of the National Science Competiton can be found at http://www.nationalsciencecompetition.org/ – and for the EU Contest for Young Scientists – http://ec.europa.eu/research/youngscientists/index_en.cfm