The Inspection & Maintenance (I&M) activities in this domain are based on human activity with small involvement from automation and robotic solutions. The human operator is at the centre of the I&M operations, that many times need to be performed under very difficult conditions, while the support from the technology is
limited and mainly focused on reporting tools. The key challenges that need to be addressed, along with a small description for each, are provided below:
INCREASE EFFICIENCY IN THE I&M ACTIVITIES OF CIVIL INFRASTRUCTURE
One aspect that makes the execution of I&M activities difficult are imposed constraints which include the following cases:
This challenge should address the constraints above without excluding similar ones, and develop technologies capable to:
REDUCE RISK FOR WORKERS DURING I&M ACTIVITIES ON CIVIL INFRASTRUCTURES
This challenge is partially related to the previous one in terms of safety from the operators’ perspective, since the more dangers operators face, the less efficient they become. Typical examples of such cases are as follows:
This challenge is expected to be addressed by introducing innovative robotic solutions that will either facilitate operators reaching unreachable places (e.g. big heights) or robotic solutions that will reach those areas and perform the I&M operations while operators control them remotely and in safety, such as aerial robots; more specifically solutions that:
ENSURE THAT CIVIL INFRASTRUCTURE IS OPERATIONAL AND SAFE
An important aspect is the quick detection of defects in the infrastructure. Usually, Vision-Systems are used for such activities, but several innovative technologies are expected to address inspection activities. Additionally, smart algorithms that can process the raw data from the perception technologies are also included in this challenge. Apart from that, decision making algorithms are also expected to be created in order to facilitate the automation of the whole I&M activity during the execution of the different activities.
WORKER – MACHINE ON JOBSITE COOPERATION
As technology evolves, people are using more and more heavy machinery and automation systems to perform I&M activities on job sites. For this reason, a high level of autonomy should be reached by each resource in order to cooperate efficiently. This challenge aims to be addressed by the following technologies:
CHALLENGE 5: OPEN
(FACILITATING TECHNOLOGIES DEVELOPMENT)
The last challenge refers to any generic supporting tool, either robotic or automation system, that is not included in the above categories and aims at supporting the communication for operators, either among themselves or with their supervisor, as well as supporting them in their I&M tasks by providing tools and instructions. Examples in this case are the communication problems that are faced on the jobsite of a long tunnel, before establishing power and any electrical infrastructure.