Robot designed for winding fiber around power lines
Facebook Connectivity, together with ULC Robotics, have developed a robot that can wind optical fiber on medium-voltage power lines, which reduces the cost of connection by 3-5 times.
Using the existing infrastructure for cable laying allows not only to automate the process, but to work with one team at once on several sites.
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On average, a robot is able to wind 1.5-2 km of cable at a cost of $ 2-3 per meter in one working day, taking into account all the costs and wages of workers. Although he is able to independently detect and overcome obstacles, but the masters still need to configure, recharge, raise, lower and switch on transitions.
In the development process, the team encountered a number of problems. First of all, the device should be light enough not to damage the cable, but at the same time be able to lay a sufficient amount of fiber. To solve the issue of mass, engineers reduced the stock of transported fiber.
Another problem was that power lines can operate under high voltage (up to 35 kV), heat up to a temperature at which a standard fiber optic sheath melts, and stretch under the influence of heat and wind. Therefore, the team decided to use a durable 200 micron fiber with a special sheath weighing 12.7 kg per 1 km of flight.
According to the developers, the device allows not only to accelerate the deployment of networks in developing countries, but also to reduce the cost of work by 3-5 times.
In addition to automating fiber optics, researchers are improving data transmission equipment. For example, recently a team of scientists introduced an optical microcircuit that increases the speed of the Internet to 44.2 Tbps.