A new robot inspector is making Sydney Harbour Bridge tunnel inspections safer while enabling human inspectors to assess structural damage more quickly and easily.
Engineers from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) have spent 5 years working on developing a revolutionary bridge inspecting robot and now it has been set to task within the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The robot is easy to set-up and position.
The robot transmits real-time data it has captured back to the bridge engineers outside who can then switch-on a camera to assess any damage found.
Risk of personal injury to human workers is greatly reduced as the robot can enter and navigate through bridge tunnels which are too unsafe for humans to enter. Air quality is a problem within the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s intricate tunnel network and drop-offs of 1.5 metres are found at regular intervals throughout the arches. The entry hatches pose another obstacle, they are too small for ambulance stretchers to fit through in the case of an emergency.
“It’s better to send a machine into a confined space than myself, because if something happened to me I would be blocked inside,” stated bridge inspector, Laurent Matkovic.
This robot uses a 3 dimensional sensor to produce a tunnel map. Once it has created its map, it then gets to work analysing the interior of the structure by moving around the various passageways, searching for and pin-pointing any structural damage found.
Walls pose no challenge for this high-tech robot. It is fitted with magnetic feet allowing it to scale the 7.2 kilometres of tunnels and passages within the bridge effortlessly.
The engineering team are planning to develop a robot which can inspect tight bridge spaces and clean them, getting rid of rust using laser beams while simultaneously repainting the area. The team hopes to have the next robot ready for action in 3 years.
“I can see this on other structures like transmission towers, ship hulls and nuclear reactors,” said Peter Ward, a UTS project engineer.