Mohammad Adinehrand from RMIT University

His PhD research topic: Miniature crawling robots for rolling stock manufacture and maintenance

Rolling stock has so many components built tightly together within a small area, which makes inspection extremely difficult, as workers are not able to inspect parts deep within. Autonomous intelligent robots are efficient alternatives that can carry cameras and navigate the unstructured environment to improve the inspection process and save time.

The RMIT project team is currently designing a robot using 3D modelling software, while performing kinematic and dynamic simulations using multibody dynamic analysis software. Once complete, the team will move onto dynamic modelling and control of the robot for stable movement within the rolling stock.

Can you describe your specific role in the PhD research project / team?
My main responsibility is to design a prototype robot to facilitate the inspection and maintenance process, derive the mathematical dynamic model of the robot and design an advanced control algorithm to achieve force control and robustness against vibrations.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge of your PhD?
Designing a flexible locomotion system and adaptive control system are the two main challenges. The lack of tiny mechanical and electrical parts limits our design, leading to difficulty in achieving the desired flexibility. On the other hand, conventional control systems are not able to equip the robot with a mobility strategy to avoid obstacles in an unstructured environment. Manoeuvring in such an environment requires an advanced control system. In addition to this, the control system should improve safety and avoid violation of interaction force, which is a current topic in the field of robotics.

Have you had any involvement from the rail industry?
This project is being done in collaboration with Downer, who provided us with a CAD model to enhance our understanding of the critical dimensions of the train and the real challenges. Downer also gave us a list of requirements which include designing a robot that can navigate on the ground and subsequently crawl into the unstructured and tight environments of train bogies, equipped with a monitoring system and path planning control system.

Why are you interested in rail research?
Environment protection is always one of my concerns and rail transport is an environmentally friendly means of transportation. Robotics and control are also my favourite academic topics.

What do you enjoy doing away from university?
Reading novels, mountain climbing, and watching historical movies and documentaries.

One of my favourite short documentaries is 89mm from Europe, a Polish short film that highlights the challenge of travelling between Europe and Russia. Several years ago, this documentary covered everything for me – it was my favourite means of transportation, and covered technology and different rail standards among countries. The most eye-catching feature however is the depiction of humanity and the hardworking rail team.

What’s been the best rail trip you’ve taken in the world?
Travelling from Colombo to Kandy, taking just over two hours between two main cities in Sri Lanka. My favourite means of transportation is train because the railways usually cross among nature, and you have plenty of time to enjoy a fabulous place in a safe, friendly environment.

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