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This thesis presents a remotely controlled robotic solution for those who must sometimes enter agriculturally confined spaces in attempts to assist with grain bin cleanout, particularly by manipulating the sweep auger. In 2015 alone, there were at least 47 documented incidents that occurred in agriculturally confined spaces, of which more than half were fatal. While there have been several advancements in the quality and effectiveness of sweep augers, there have been very few that offer the safety and adaptability of the robotic solution proposed. This robotic solution is a four-wheeled, skid-steering style robot with camera and lighting attachments that allow the user to operate from outside of a grain bin. The intended use of this robot is to manipulate the sweep auger by providing forward advancement assistance via an interfacing front-end attachment. Testing has shown that this robot is capable of generating over 500 lbs of assistive force and can also provide assistance even in situations with poor traction with the aid of an integrated thrusting mechanism. This thesis details the design process, provides a description of the testing methods employed, and results obtained.
Advisor: Shane Farritor