Right after the world climate conference in the beginning of December 2008 in Poznan/Poland, everybody was talking about it again: global warming and its results. The recent years, climate research has been given top priority, not only in Germany. Among other things, the melting of the glaciers and polar caps is observed carefully and academically evaluated.
A new research robot, which moves on impassable areas of glaciers or polar regions easily, could be a big help for climatologists. While moving forward, it collects data at the same time, such as temperatures or velocity of flow. The design students Jonathan Herrle, Josef Niedermeier and Ralf Kittmann of the Berlin Weißensee School of Art introduced a study of such robot called "Tribot". Thanks to the tetrahedron geometry, the Tribot knows no "top", "down", "left" or "right". In order to move, the side lengths of the tetrahedron are being displaced, the centre of gravity is changing and the Tribot tips onto the side. Thus, he adapts to even the roughest areas and is able to climb as well. The study yielded the team of students, coached by Professor Helmut Staubach, the most important German design prize, an iF Product Design Award 2009 in the category "Advanced Studies".
Students received a second iF Product Design Award 2009 in the category "Advanced Studies" for their study "TubeBot": a maintenance robot to be used in urban drinking water pipelines. It's a known fact that in London approx. 20 percent of the drinking water get lost because of leakage in pipelines. "TubeBot" performs without additional energy supply due to its intelligent design, which uses the pressure continuously available in the pipelines for power generation. The robot is constructed in a way that it can work when the pipeline system is being operated at full capacity. It will signal the place of leakage and tears exactly. Thereby repairs can be implemented without interrupting the water supply in a cost- and time-saving manner.
The students' research project focused on how the rapidly developing robot technology can be used in order to overcome ecological challenges in the future.The three students did not want to serve the stereotype of a android all-rounder, but demonstrate the actual value-added of robots. As a "tool in motion", mostly operating autonomously, the robot can offer relief in difficult and dangerous working areas.
Both robot studies - each awarded a prize - will be presented at the IF Exhibition in Hanover from March to August 2009. The award ceremony will take place on 3 March 2009 in Hanover. From 14 January until 27 March 2009, they will also be on display at the Berlin Weißensee School of Art together with other works from the Product Design department.