Development of mobile sensor for volcanic observation “HOMURA”: Test campaign at Kirishima Iwo-yama, SW Japan

Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Katsuya Kaneko, Koichi Ito, Kodai Iwahori and Yuichi Anbe, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
Monitoring volcanoes near active craters is important to know symptoms and transitions of volcanic eruptions. In order to observe volcanic phenomena near craters according to the circumstance, monitoring system with unmanned robots are useful. We have been trying to develop a practical UGV-type robot, and have completed a prototype, which we named "Homura". Homura is a small-sized, vehicle-type robot with six wheels (750 x 430 x 310 mm in dimensions and a weight of about 12 kg). Homura is remotely controlled with mobile phone radio waves; it can move in volcanic fields and send real time data of sensors equipped in the vehicle to the base station.

We carried out a test campaign of Homura from Feb. 19th to Apr. 8th, 2015 at Iwo-yama to examine if Homura can work for a few month in natural volcanic fields. Iwo-yama is one of craters in the Kirishima volcanic field, SW Japan; the area within 1 km from the crater was an off-limit area from Oct. 24th, 2014 to May 5th, 2015 because volcanic seismicity there was active and eruption might occur. On Feb. 19th, we carried and put Homura at the rim of the crater. Unfortunately, mobile phone connectivity was not entirely stable around Iwo-yama. Then, we decided not to move Homura and only to obtain real time data of the sensors (a camera, CO2 gas sensor, and thermometer). After we returned to our office, we operated Homura for one to two hours every day until Apr. 8th. Although the weather was often bad (rain, fog, or cold temperature) during the test campaign, we could completely operate Homura without any trouble. On Apr. 8th, the battery in Homura ran down. After we collected Homura from Iwo-yama and recharged the battery, Homura perfectly worked again. The results of this campaign indicate that Homura stably operates for a long time in volcanic field. Homura is useful as simple monitoring station in volcanic fields where mobile phone connection is available.