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Component Three
Component Three describes our final proposal and improvement to a relatively new, already existing device called the Pneu-worm. Explained in this section is the proposed improvement to the selected technology application, Autonomous Robotic Devices. Our mission was to create a proposal for the technology which would constitute its new use. To our dismay, we discovered that what we imagined already existed. Now the challenge was to devise something even better than the Pneu-worm. Our new proposal needed to face the final scrutiny, a review, by the very inventors we wished we were, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This would be a real incredible Mission Impossible!
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Suggestion for a new use of the technology application

Description of the improvement to the technology application

A suggestion for a new application of the technical application

Where the technology application can be developed

Another scientist's or engineer's opinion of our proposal

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Our suggestion for a new use of the technology application:
 
 
We have established several improvements to enhance a device called the Pneu-worm. The current Pneu-worm is a robot that crawls through pipes to find cracks in tanks where radioactive waste is held. It is approximately 0.3 meters long and 10 centimeters in diameter. A camera and a light are attached to its front end so that scientists in laboratories can see exactly what is going on inside the pipes. The Pneu-worm is pneumatically powered, and therefore able to travel through passages even if water is flowing through them.
 
Our first improvement to this creation, would be to eliminate the use of the pipes. We think the Pneu-worm would be much more beneficial if it was able to travel throughout the soil near the pipes. It would then actually be able to detect hazardous waste, as opposed to only checking for cracks in the passages. For it to be able to do this, we decided it would have to be remade based on the structure of an earthworm.
Don Box of ORNL and Howard Harvey, vice president of REMOTEC, Inc., a robotics manufacturer, hold the PNEU-WORM robot he invented to help inspect pipe interiors.
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Description of the improvement to the technology application
 
The earthworm moves by extending its front end through the soil, forcing the hard-packed earth to go around its body. The worm then drags its back end up, which results in its easy travel. For our worm to be able to do this, it would have to be made of a strong material. We considered many different, flexible metals, and both Teflon and Syntex seemed to be the most versatile. A micro-controller would have to be installed onto the worm, preprogramming it, so that it knows exactly where to search for radioactive waste.
 
The concept of a robotic earthworm, which we will call "Squ-Worm", traveling through soil, would hinder the use of both the camera and the light, which as of now, sit atop the Pneu-worm's "head". What would be the use of them? We can't see through soil, so both those items would be ineffective. This is where another one of our improvements come in. If a GPS chip were installed into the Pneu-worm, a satellite could produce a 3-D map of the area being searched for waste. We could therefore see where the worm, and the contaminated soil was located on a computer to which the image was being transferred. However, the only way to find out if the soil contains hazardous waste would be to have a fiber-optic radiation sensor installed onto the worm. The fibers react when they come into contact with radioactive waste. The sensor would then transfer the information to a computer, telling us whether or not the soil was hazardous, and just how high the radiation level would be.
To make the Pneu-worm easier to maneuver, we would want it to be able to reverse itself by the convertibility of turning inside-out. All we would need to do would be to program it (that's where the micro-controller comes in handy), and when the need should arise, it will simply turn inside-out. Thus it would be able to exit the same way it had come while still being able to function properly.
 
Our last idea would be to enable the revised Pneu-worm to take samples of the contaminated soil for further examination. If the end of the worm that was facing forward could open up, then as the worm moved it would fill up with soil. The end would then close, and return to the surface. Another way for the worm to take samples of the soil, would be for it to have joints like a bendable straws. The worm would be programmed to wiggle, and as it did, these joints would open up, and soil would fill them. When both sides were full, the worm would rotate, and the soil would fall inside.
 
By rethinking the Pneu-worm our improvements have transformed the original robotic into a autonomous robot called the "Squ-Worm". We believe the "Squ-Worm" is more flexible in its use and is more efficient in detecting hazardous waste. In conclusion, we have improved a robot, that at first glance, was seemingly perfect.
 
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A suggestion for a new application of the technical application

(Although we already covered an improvement to the technical application, we felt it important to add a suggestion for a new application.)

As a suggestion for an new application, Mission Incredible would like to refer to the existing possibility of using this robotic for land mine detection.

Land mines can be very deadly machines, in fact they are deadly machines, that can take lives quickly. Basically, lands mines as we know it, are small devices buried underground and hidden where the naked eye can't see. The following will describe and state what land mines can do, and other stop-dead-in-your-tracks-info on devastating land mine stories.

Land mines have killed, severely injured, or maimed nearly 2,000 within the past year. There are 68 countries where all this can occur and even if where you live, you don't have them it is a major concern for all of us. Waiting to be stepped on, are 110 million land mines scattered all over the world. Some countries are trying to pass a law to put a stop to all of this.

The following is a newspaper article taken from the Boston Globe:

Basic Facts from the International American Red Cross:
  • There are more the 100 land mines planted in 17 countries. Angola is the most heavily mined nation with an estimate of 10 - 20 million people
  • At the least, 26,000 people lose lives or limbs to mines each year.
  • Just 13% of mine victims are wounded during combat or wars/battle. The rest are people doing normal activities.
  • Anti-personnel mines cost three to thirty dollars each. The average cost of clearing them can cost up to fifty times as much.
  • For every 5,000 mines cleared, one mine remover is killed, and two are injured.

For information on how to donate to land mine research and detection click here

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Where the technology application can be developed
 
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL-Bringing Science to Life) is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation for the U.S. Department of Energy.
 
Perhaps the biggest contribution to our website was the discovery of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), who had already created the basis of our robot, the Pneu-worm. Because all the members of our team had been entered in the Hewlett Packard E-Mail Mentor Program, we could contact an adult mentor, via the Internet, for help with the project. On one such occasion, Karen Pline, a mentor, sent Rachel to the website of ORNL. She then visited the website, saw the picture of the Pneu-worm, and downloaded a video of it onto a computer so everyone in our group could view it. It was at this time that we recognized that our proposed concept already existed. With considerable brainstorming, we revised our robot and decided to see what the engineers at ORNL thought of it and even more importantly whether ORNL would consider its development. Oak Ridge National Laboratory responded positively as seen in the fax that follows.
 
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Another scientist's or engineer's opinion of our proposal
We contacted a scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), a Mr. A. Robert Sadlowe, of the Chemical Technology Division, whose number we found in the video of the Pneu-worm. After contacting him via phone and explaining to him who we were and what we were doing, we faxed a copy of our proposal. He read it, and then faxed us back his opinion on the project. As the guidelines of the ISTF state, we have included his fax back to us on the website, which can be obtained by clicking on the document image on this page.

 

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Internet Science and Technology Fair

Sherman School e-mail

Sherman School Website

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