Currently im working on an in-pipeline inspection robot that can navigate through narrow pipeline. My design is to use a propeller at the back to push the robot forward.

The front part of the robot will have a camera to inspect the pipeline interior. Additionally, the robot will have support wheels to provide stability, braking and enable the turning of the robot, either right or left.

I need help in determining what type of propeller will provide enough force to push the robot forward through the pipeline.Also, what type of motor to use for that propeller.

Thank you for your effort and time.

in-pipeline inspection robot with propeller sketch

  • $\begingroup$ Will the robot need to go in reverse? $\endgroup$
    – koverman47
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 22:55
  • $\begingroup$ you left out the most important part $\endgroup$
    – jsotola
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 1:16
  • $\begingroup$ Yes the robot will need to go in reverse. The front part of the robot will have a camera, therefore i cant put the propeller there. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ What are the dimensions of the pipe? What are the dimensions of the robot? $\endgroup$
    – koverman47
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Ibrahim, aren't you at least going to ask what the most important part is? $\endgroup$
    – jsotola
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 1:30

1 Answer 1


First of all an important parameter is if the pipe is filled with some liquid or with air or with vacuum (to be extreme). The nature of the environment will impact the type of propeller (and if vacuum you will need to think about something else)

Typically propeller are powered by brushless motor, as suggest you to look for hobby airplanes. Then if you want to have bi-directional forces you have two choices, revertible ESCs (scare on the market, poor controllability at low speed) or variable pitch propellers (more complex, additional payload to carry).

Last remarks, based on your illustration you will have terrible performance as the propeller is 'hidden' behind your body ... It might be better to use a couple of motorized wheels along the body of your pod. Also if you want to do inspection you might need to go slow, and for that motorized wheel might be better suited.

  • $\begingroup$ I would like to add an additional consideration: unbalanced rotational forces. A single propeller isn't going to propel the robot very much; in a viscous fluid, the robot will likely just spin in place. Based on this, I also recommend going with wheels. $\endgroup$
    – MindS1
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 13:02

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