This is an interesting article from Space.com about a cable inspection robot. It discusses, specifically, a robot for “terrestrial underground power cable systems”, but draws the obvious parallel for the need for automated inspections of a future Space Elevator.
As a serendipitous side note, a friend of mine recently suggested that perhaps a good way to test a carbon nanotube cable, or to demonstrate it’s strength, would be to use one for the San Francisco Cable Car system. Ben Shelef pointed out that the requirements and environmental conditions wouldn’t be the same, but that it still might be a useful idea.
Regardless, these types of climbers / robots are going to be crucial in maintaining a Space Elevator. As a retired Computer Programmer, I’d love the challenge of programming one of these to handle any and all conditions they might encounter.
Update: For some reason, this article from Space.com takes forever and a day to load – be patient – it will happen…