HazMat Rescue Robot
MIT, Fall 2008

Class: Introduction to Robotics
Team Size: 9 people, 3 person subgroup
Duration: 2 months
Project: Design an autonomous robot capable of cleaning up hazardous waste.

In this project, teams were to design an robot capable of detecting and cleaning up a hazardous waste spill in a nuclear power plant - or in reality, capable of detecting and removing ordinary glowsticks from a tank of water. Robots were to be attached to a gantry spanning the tank and to conduct their actions autonomously.

My 3-person subgroup designed the end effector with which the robot collected the glowsticks. The end effector needed to be able to grasp tightly onto a detected glowstick, but it also needed to be able to pick up glowsticks floating in any orientation in the water. An upside-down "V"-shaped collector with clamping fingers was able to achieve both objectives; the "V" was wide enough to collect glowsticks floating in any position, but a quick submerging of the end effector beneath the surface forced the glowstick to orient itself parallel with the collector. The clamping fingers held the glowstick in place until it could be disposed of.

The final version of the end effector, shown on the left, was based on my early design sketches such as those shown on the right.


CAD models demonstrate the abilities of the end effector to re-orient and grasp a glowstick..

Due to the success of this design, our team won the "Best End Effector Design" award.