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Kurt I, a 32-cm-long robot, crawls through a simulated sewer network on the grounds of the Gesellschaft für Mathematik und Datenverabeitung-Forschungs-zentrum Informationstechnik GmbH (GMD), a government-owned R&D center outside Bonn, Germany. Every ten years, Germany's 400,000 kilometers of sewers must be inspected, at a cost of $9 per meter. Today, vehicles tethered to long data cables explore remote parts of the system. Because the cables restrict the vehicle's mobility and range, GMD engineers have built Kurt I, which crawls through sewers itself. To pilot itself, the robot?or, rather, its successor model, Kurt II?will use two low-power lasers to beam a checkerboardlike grid into its path. When the gridlines curve, indicating a bend or intersection in the pipe ahead, Kurt II will match the curves against a digital map in its "brain" and pilot itself to its destination. From the book Robo sapiens: Evolution of a New Species, page 194

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GER_rs_6_qxxs.jpg
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© 2000 Peter Menzel, www.menzelphoto.com, Robo Sapiens
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Kurt I, a 32-cm-long robot, crawls through a simulated sewer network on the grounds of the Gesellschaft für Mathematik und Datenverabeitung-Forschungs-zentrum Informationstechnik GmbH (GMD), a government-owned R&D center outside Bonn, Germany. Every ten years, Germany's 400,000 kilometers of sewers must be inspected, at a cost of $9 per meter. Today, vehicles tethered to long data cables explore remote parts of the system. Because the cables restrict the vehicle's mobility and range, GMD engineers have built Kurt I, which crawls through sewers itself. To pilot itself, the robot?or, rather, its successor model, Kurt II?will use two low-power lasers to beam a checkerboardlike grid into its path. When the gridlines curve, indicating a bend or intersection in the pipe ahead, Kurt II will match the curves against a digital map in its "brain" and pilot itself to its destination. From the book Robo sapiens: Evolution of a New Species, page 194