The magnetic wheels on the EnvirobotTM paint stripping robot held the robot to the ship’s steel hull. However, they exerted so much force that successive passes flattened the steel beneath the wheels. The wheels also could not easily roll over weld beads.
The NREC team found a new magnet that was strong enough to hold the robot onto the hull with a one-half inch air gap. They installed the magnet between pairs of rubber-coated wheels that traveled smoothly over the hull without damaging it. The new design was awarded a United States patent.
The Envirobot™ is in daily use at shipyards around the world.
It was featured on National Geographic Channel's Worlds Toughest Fixes.