A large number of underground transportation tunnels have been in operation for more than half a century and are in dire need for inspection, assessment and maintenance. Things are bad to the point that there have been a number of failures resulting in collapses in tunnels in recent years which highlighted the need for better ways to inspect and assess the tunnel stability of in-service tunnels.
ROBO-SPECT adapts and integrates recent research results in robotics, computer vision and non-destructive sensing in an innovative, integrated, robotic system that automatically scans the intrados for potential defects on the surface and detects and measures radial deformation in the cross-section, distance between parallel cracks, cracks and open joints that impact tunnel stability, with mm accuracies. This permits in one pass, both the inspection and structural assessment of tunnels.
The main goal of the project is to develop an autonomous robotic inspection and assessment system for tunnels that will include: (a) a computer vision system that will detect structural defects and colour changes at the concrete lining intrados, (b) a sensor system that will measure the depth of cracks and the depth of opening of joints of interest with an accuracy of 1 mm and the width of these cracks and openings with an accuracy of 0.1 mm and (c) laser equipment able to measure radial deformation with an accuracy of 1 mm, while it will be integrated with software that based on the above measurements will assess the structural condition of the inspected tunnel.
The ROBO-SPECT system will be tested at a research infrastructure of tunnels in Switzerland and at actual tunnels in UK and Greece.
ROBO-SPECT proposes specialised work to adapt, extent and validate recent exploitable research results that will provide the required functionalities and intelligence to an automatic, multi component and multi-degree of freedom robotic system that will credibly, efficiently and inexpensively perform both inspection and assessment of the tunnel in a single pass.
The work includes the following steps:
- Definition of user requirements and system architecture.
- Development of robotic navigation and intelligent positioning controllers.
- Development of the computer vision system for real time defect detection.
- Development of ultrasonic sensors for the measurement of width and depth of cracks and openings.
- Structural assessment based on measurements at the intrados.
- Integration of the whole system.
- Field evaluation and benchmarking of the integrated system at a research infrastructure of tunnels in Switzerland and at actual tunnels in UK and Greece.