This planning-visit award allows Dr. Fathi H. Ghorbel, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Rice University, Houston, Texas to work with Dr. Lotfi Romdhane, Ecole Nationale de Ingenieurs de Monastir, Monastir, Tunisia, to plan a joint project on the locomotion and path planning of in-pipe robots.
Intellectual Merit: Recently, robots that move inside pipes started to gain importance within the research community. For example, robots moving inside petrochemical and energy pipes represent a new means of in-pipe inspection that will revolutionize the health monitoring and inspection of this critical industry infrastructure. In-pipe robotic locomotion and path planning is crucial in the advancement of this robotic technology. This visit will allow Dr. Ghorbel and Dr. Romdhane to make their robotic experiences in use to formulate the problem of the kinematics and path planning of this type of robots. The visit will allow taking this interaction to a research project formulation level.
Broad Impact: Aside from the intellectual exchanges, the visit will set the stage to future collaboration leading to broader impacts in the area of student exchanges, development of new robotic coursework material, and the involvement of females and minorities in the project. The work on the project, if successful, can have significant impacts on industries that utilize long pipelines.