An open source robot to inspect under vehicles, crawl spaces and any other dark dirty space you need to take a look at.

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InspectorBot is a Raspberry PI based mobile robot to allow its user to inspect the dirty dark and dangerous areas for anything from leaks to damage to dangers from the safety of a smart phone.


Have you ever needed to crawl under your vehicle to see where that leak is coming from, or maybe you’re a home owner that may need to crawl into a small dark crawl space and push your way through the spider webs to investigate a possible busted pipe? Or you could be a law enforcement officer that needs to look under a suspicious vehicle for possible drug smuggling.


InspectorBot is a small, low cost open source tele-operated robot with an upward-pointing high definition camera to allow easy inspection of any surface above the robot. A second forward-pointing low definition camera will be used to allow the user to drive the robot to the desired location. InspetorBot will be built around the ever-popular Raspberry Pi with P2P (Point to point) wifi and a built in website to allow InspectoBot to be controlled from any smart phone or web enabled device in any location.

Project agenda:

During the development of InspectorBot, I started thinking about how InspectorBot could be commercialized and how could it benefit people in general.  There are military, law enforcement and the obvious border patrol applications, but I really want InspectorBot to be able to help the average citizen to be able to start businesses and work toward financial independence.  One area would be auto auctions.  A lot of small automotive dealerships purchase used cars at auto auctions.  An InspectorBot would allow the dealer to take a better look under the vehicle and have a better idea of the vehicle’s value before they bid.

 Another area I believe would have the greatest possible opportunity would be the idea of an under building survey.  The concept is to use an InspectorBot to take a series of high definition images from the crawl space of the underside of the building.  Use an application to “stitch” all of the images together to generate one complete high definition image of the underside of the building. There is no business that I’m aware of that presently provides this service, but what is under the building is as important as what is above the building.

 Who would be the customers?

The most obvious customers would be in the real estate industry.  I cannot imagine that any individual that is looking for a new home would not be interested in what is in the crawl space of a potential new home, not to mention a building inspector could have actual data about the crawl space.  If the service was available, mortgage companies and banks would be interested in any information to protect their investment, plus the data could be used to help assess the value of the home.  The addition of sensors could also allow dangers such as radon gas to be exposed.  This could help protect the family that will be living in the new home.

Another possible use is to inspect a commercial building before it is renovated.  Often when older buildings are renovated, unexpected dangers, such as asbestos-covered pipes and insulation, is encountered.  An under building survey could expose these dangers before any workers are exposed.

With lots of possible customers in a new and presently untapped field of under building surveys, there are opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators to start new and profitable businesses in a whole new field with just an InspectorBot and a software application to stitch the images together.

Build agenda:

After I built the proof of concept unit with extra parts I had, I decided the new build would be more reproducible. Here’s a build agenda to breakdown the new InspectorBot’s build:

  • For the new build, select easily available parts to make InspectorBot easy to reproduce.
  • Setup and test low definition camera.
  • Setup and test high definition camera.
  • Start the build around a Raspberry Pi. Install both cameras and Raspberry PI on a box used as the main body of the robot.
  • Use Python to develop an easy way to switch the display between cameras. ...
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  • 1 × Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
  • 1 × Raspberry pi camera v2
  • 1 × mini usb camera
  • 2 × Dual H-bridge Motor driver L293D L293DD013TR PDF in repository
  • 1 × BOX PLASTIC 4.43"L X 3.33"W x 1.73"H Hammond Manufacturing 1591XXSSBK PDF in repository

View all 7 components

  • Forward pointing and upward pointing cameras running at the same time.

    Dennis5 days ago 0 comments

    Here’s a short python program to test if both cameras can be operated at once.  The program sets up and starts both the low definition forward pointing USB camera and the high definition Raspberry PI V2 upward pointing camera.  The program uses a “MOUSEBUTTONDOWN” event to tell the program to switch the display between the cameras.

    Below is an image of the program displaying the forward pointing camera from underneath a vehicle.

    After clicking on the image, the display switched to the upward pointing camera.  I will need to add lighting LEDs to get better upward pointing images and also forward pointing LEDs for driving around in crawl spaces.

    After clicking the image several times, the image switches back and forth between cameras without a problem.  The good news is it works! :) The bad news is I have an oil leak. :(

  • Raspberry pi camera v2

    Dennis07/06/2017 at 00:07 2 comments

    For the time being, I wanted to work with pygame to access and display the cameras. Pygame makes it easy to add a USB camera, but a little more challenging to add the second High definition Raspberry Pi camera v2. Below is a short program to display the cameras attached to the RPI that are detected by pygame. I gave it the original name of “check_for_cameras”. The USB camera is plugged into a USB port and the Raspberry pi v2 camera plugged into the camera port.

    Now run the program.

    The program shows the problem. With the USB cameras plugged in and the Raspberry pi camera v2 plugged into the camera port, the program only displays the USB camera. To be able to access the Raspberry PI camera with pygame, we need a driver. Open the terminal and enter the command “sudo modprobe bcm2835-v4l2” like the below picture and run the program again.

    ***I edited this section on Radomir Dopieralski advice and placed bcm2835-v4l2 in /etc/modules instead of /etc/rc.local. Thanks Radomir it works GREAT! ***

    It worked! We can see both cameras. The next problem is it will only work until we reboot the Raspberry Pi. To get around this, we will need to run “sudo modprobe bcm2835-v4l2” at start up. To run the command at start up, open terminal and enter “sudo nano /etc/ modules” then add “bcm2835-v4l2” in the following window. Like the two pictures below and save the change.

    Finally reboot the Raspberry PI and run the program, and both cameras should be detected.

  • Low Resolution Camera

    Dennis06/26/2017 at 01:34 0 comments

    InspectorBot will need a forward facing low resolution camera so the user will be able to drive the robot when the robot is in an area such as crawl spaces where the user cannot see the robot. I found a cheap mini USB camera on ebay. Below is the camera.

    I wasn’t sure if the camera would work with a Raspberry PI so I wrote a short program using Pygame to test it. Below is the program and an image of the program running with the mini camera plugged into one of the Raspberry PIs USB ports. It works well with a Raspberry PI.

  • First steps getting the tools

    Dennis06/23/2017 at 02:47 0 comments

    One if the nicest things about Raspberry PIs is that there is great documentation online that is easy to follow. I’m using the Raspberry Pi 3 model B with Raspbian available here

    Next, the RPI needs to be setup as a wifi access point to allow the RPI to directly communicate with other web enabled devices.

    Next, the Raspberry Pi will need to be set up to use the upward pointing camera. I’m using a raspberry pi camera v2 for this camera.

    That is the initial tools we’ll need to get started.

View all 4 project logs

  • 1
    Starting the build

    It’s always nice to receive a Digi-Key box. It means more toys. Also, the first parts for the new build.

    I’m using an aluminum L bar to make the camera mount. This one is a 1/2” x ¾’. I measured and mark a 1 ½” length and also mark the mounting holes around ¼” from each side. Drill 1/8” mounting holes and cut the 1 ½” length. I like to file off any burrs and round the edges.

    Next, center the aluminum mount on one side of the top of the box and drill the 1/8” holes. I pop riveted the mount on the cover, but machine screws will work also. The low definition USB camera should clip easily on the mount

    Next, take the bottom of a Raspberry Pi case and drill four small holes on the feet.

    Place the bottom of the case on top of the box centered behind the camera mount and drill 4 small holes. I used 4 self-tapping screws to secure the Raspberry PI case to the box. 

    On the top of the Raspberry PI case, I positioned the Raspberry PI camera and drilled 4 small holes to mount the Raspberry PI camera.

    With 4 screws and four ½” stand offs, I connected the cameras to the top of the Raspberry PI case.

    Next, plug everything in and snap together the parts and the top of the bot is assembled. I haven’t gotten the gearhead motors yet, but hopefully soon.

View all instructions

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Humpelstilzchen wrote 06/29/2017 at 17:24 point

You might want to fix the tag: MOB_LE ROBOT ;)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dennis wrote 06/29/2017 at 23:41 point

Oops! Thanks Humpelstilzchen. Spelling never has been my
strong point. :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

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