ROBotic System with Intelligent Vision and Control for Tunnel Structural INSPECTion and Evaluation (ROBINSPECT)
One of the greatest challenges facing engineers today is the inspection, assessment, maintenance and safe operation of the existing civil infrastructure such as, tunnels, bridges, roads, and much more. Due to ageing, environmental factors, increased loading, change in use, damages caused by human/natural factors, inadequate or poor maintenance and deferred repairs, civil infrastructure is progressively deteriorating, urgently needing inspection, assessment and repair work. Nowhere is this need more apparent than in underground transportation tunnels, a large number of which have been in operation for more than half a century and there are widespread signs of deterioration, evidenced by an increase in the proportion of budgets spent on inspection and assessment. Things are bad to the point that there have been a number of collapses in tunnels in recent years which highlighted the need for better ways to inspect and assess tunnel stability of in service tunnels.
Presently, structural tunnel inspection is predominantly performed through tunnel-wide visual observations by inspectors. This process is slow, labour intensive, expensive, subjective and often requires lane shutdown during inspection. In this frame, the ROBINSPECT project is aiming to provide an automated robotic system that in one pass will provide speedily and reliably tunnel inspection and structural assessment.
ROBINSPECT is a project co-funded by the European Commission under FP7 that launched its activities in October 2013 with the organisation of the consortium kick-off meeting that was held in Athens, Greece and hosted by the project coordinator, the Institute of Communication and Computer Systems (https://i-sense.iccs.gr). The main objective of ROBINSPECT is to provide an automated, faster (that does not, or only minimally interfere with tunnel traffic) and reliable tunnel inspection and assessment solution that can combine in one pass both inspection and detailed structural assessment. The proposed robotic system will be evaluated at the research infrastructure of VSH in Switzerland, at London Underground and at the tunnels of Egnatia Motorway in Greece.
ROBINSPECT is expected to:
• increase the speed and reliability of tunnel inspections
• provide assessment in addition to inspection
• minimize use of scarce tunnel inspectors while improve the working conditions of such inspectors
• decrease inspection and assessment cost
• increase the safety of passengers
• decrease the time when tunnels are closed for inspection
The Institute of Communication and Computer Systems – (ICCS) is the project and technical manager while at the same time is responsible for the planning and realization of the computer vision system and for the development of semi-supervised learning techniques. ICCS will also work in the frames of the pilot application and control of the completed system and will contribute in the dissemination activities of the project work in the wide public and in the relevant scientific and industrial community.
The “D. Bairaktaris and Associates Ltd.” (DBA) have undertaken the exploitation of the measurement results for the analytic evaluation of static efficiency of tunnels. For this aim, DBA will develop analysis methods both in the places of obvious cracks for the evaluation of local intensive situation and for the whole construction, aiming at the assessment of imposed exterior charge as well as the localization of likely concrete damages- via training and use of suitable special software.
Egnatia Motorway S.A.(EOAE), the company that has studied, manufactured and maintains hundreds of medium and long length twin tunnels of the motorway of EGNATIA Motorway will contribute with its experience in the determination of technical specifications and the whole framework of the robotic inspection system, so that it covers the inspection needs of the currently operational tunnels. The main contribution of the company is to support the conduction of tests of the development robotic systems in three of its road tunnels as well as the evaluation of their results, comparing them with previous results from the conventional methods of inspection that the company follows until today.