Let rover do the real risky stuff

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2013
Andre Geldenhuis

WHAT LIES BENEATH: Canterbury University post-graduate student Andre Geldenhuis with his rover robot, which is designed to check under houses for quake damage.

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The days of Christchurch people crawling under their homes to check quake-damaged foundations could be over.

A University of Canterbury student has designed a small rover robot, which makes vital inspections of damaged buildings safer and cheaper.

Postgraduate student Andre Geldenhuis, 32, is behind the idea, which came about because his supervisor did not want to crawl under his house to make checks.

"It's a practical thing. In Christchurch especially, it's pretty unsafe and awful to have to get under the house.

"This was a solution to that," Geldenhuis said.

If a quake occurred while people were under the floor and there was liquefaction, they could drown or the house could collapse.

"What they tend to do instead is pull up the floorboards, which is expensive for everybody involved," he said.

"If we get this going, it could save a lot of money and make it a lot safer to do inspections."

Geldenhuis said the robot used an array of sensors to identify and map the size and extent of cracks and measure damage under a building.

The rover carries a light, a video and still camera.

High-definition video and still imagery records the condition of piles and other structures beneath houses.

The robot would have its pilot run in a couple of weeks, he said, but a prototype had been trialled.

Geldenhuis' supervisor, Dr Chris Hann, has been working with Dr Richard Parker at Scion on commercial applications of the device.

"It'd be crazy to see it developed. It's always good to see your idea come to fruition," Geldenhuis said.

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- Canterbury

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