Like most aspects of American infrastructure, electrical towers will at some point require maintenance to fix or replace aging parts. For example, an electrical tower can develop hairline cracks along its flange ring (the area of the tower where two sections are welded and riveted together, typically hundreds of feet in the air). However, it can be too dangerous for people to climb the tower to inspect it and drones cannot get close enough to the towers without crashing into them. So, what is the solution for inspecting aging electrical tower flange welds?

To help resolve this global issue, robotics and engineering students at ATEMS and The LIFT are developing a robot that can attach itself to these towers, climb up to the flange rings, and take detailed photographs and video of any cracks or fissures. “This is real,” says Larry Haney, teacher of Computer Integrated Manufacturing and Robotics at the LIFT. “Whoever figures out a way to solve it … is not just fixing a Texas problem, they are fixing a problem that is worldwide.”

Check out this video to see AISD students and staff working on this problem as the learn to become future ready!