Although fiber optic internet cable has many advantages over metal cable, it often has to be distributed underground – which limits its usability. However, Facebook has developed a robot that can wrap cables around existing power lines.
Among other things, fiber optic cables allow higher bandwidth than metal cables, along with faster speeds, longer transmission distances, and stronger security. And while sometimes To be distributed over the ground through existing power line poles, factors such as exposure to wind, ice and extreme temperatures can cause it to sag and eventually fracture over time.
For this reason, most companies and cities prefer to put it underground. However, doing so involves digging trenches throughout the city, placing fiber optic cables inside those trenches (either directly or in conduit) and then backfilling them. This is an expensive, disruptive and laborious process that is simply not feasible in many parts of the world.
That’s where Facebook Connectivity’s Bombyx robot is intended to come in.
Taking its name from the Latin word for “silkworm”, the device is designed to crawl automatically along existing medium voltage power lines, winding a continuous length of fiber optic cable around them as such. The plans call for it to eventually be capable of installing more than a kilometer (0.6 miles) of cable in about 90 minutes, using machine vision sensors to automatically navigate around “dozens of obstacles” interference” as an insulator. The functional prototype must now be manually guided around an obstacle using the remote control.
Unfortunately, a typical 1km roll of fiber optic cable is too heavy to hang in one place (in a robot) on a regular power line. For that reason, Bombyx uses a special cable combined with a lighter braided Kevlar sheath, and reduces the fiber count from the traditional 96 to 24. According to Facebook, this should still be enough to serve all the family. and the premises through which each power line passes. In addition, the new cable has a special heat-resistant outer layer – this protects it from melting or stretching by the high temperatures normally reached by power lines.
Although Bombyx is still in development, Facebook Connectivity has licensed the technology to high-speed Internet company NetEquity Networks. The robot can be seen in action on YouTube.
Canadian public utility company Hydro-Quebec, incidentally, recently developed a crawler robot of its own, for automated inspection of power lines.
Source: Facebook ,