Chico is an environmental robot created to inspect oil pipelines in the Amazon. It's designed as an amphibian vehicle, and it can drive on sand, mud, and flooded terrain, as well as float on water.
Did you know?
The robot is named after the famed Brazilian environmentalist Chico Mendes.
Researchers at Petrobras, Brazil's state-controlled oil company, started working on a robot to monitor oil pipelines in the Amazon in 2005. Led by Ney Robinson Salvi dos Reis, a robotics engineer at Petrobras' R&D center in Rio de Janeiro, the researchers completed a first model in 2007 and took it for testing in the Solimoes and Amazon rivers. The robot, whose official name is Hybrid Environmental Robot Chico Mendes, was able to reach areas that are extremely hard to get to using conventional boats. The team, in collaboration with other companies, research groups, and local communities in the Amazon, is now working to improve the robot's sensing and manipulation capabilities. They're also working on building a larger version that can transport a person inside.