| Connect Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
About | Subscribe | Advertise


Download our free e-book! Protecting and maintaining transmission pipeline

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

Robot Busts Corrosion on Swiss Bridges

Thursday, August 28, 2014

More items for Program/Project Management

Comment | More

Hard-to-reach spots during bridge inspections are getting a little help from a wall- and ceiling-climbing robot that may soon bring its talents to a national stage.

A research team in Zürich developed the robot, called C2D2 (Climbing Corrosion Detecting Device), to be used as a corrosion detector by modifying a former project.

Now Switzerland's Federal Roads Office (FEDRO), which is funding the project, is considering using the robot for future bridge inspections.

Photos: Peter Rüegg / ETH Zürich

"C2D2 can help to create a safe and sustainable infrastructure at a relatively low cost—that was the motivation behind the project," said Bernhard Elsener, professor at the Institute for Building Materials at ETH Zürich.

C2D2 recently won an award in the "Prolongation of Service Life" category at the first Concrete Innovation Conference, held June 11-13 in Oslo, Norway.

Old Meets New

C2D2 joined forces with technology to identify corrosion at an early stage that was developed 25 years ago by Bernhard Elsener, professor at the Institute for Building Materials at ETH Zürich, and a team of researchers.

Back then, they attached an electrode to a wheel and wheeled it across the surface of reinforced concrete. The sensor measured electric potential differences, which were then analyzed.

While the technology was used for a long time to inspect bridges, Elsener said one problem remained: "The wheel electrode is attached to a stick and has to be wheeled manually. This means that many areas, such as supporting pillars and the undersides of high bridges, lie out of reach."

So the Institute of Building Materials, the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems, and the Autonomous Systems Lab came together to develop a robot that could detect corrosion everywhere, even spots inacessible to people, and in the earliest stage possible.

"C2D2 can help to create a safe and sustainable infrastructure at a relatively low cost—that was the motivation behind the project," Elsener said.

A More Robust Robot

The team turned to a robot developed several years earlier that could move along the walls and ceiling. Steered with a remote control or computer, the robot used Vortex technology, which pushes it along with a propeller rotating fast enough for a suction cup to stick it to a surface.

ETH Zurich

The Federal Roads Office, which is funding the project, will test the robot to determine whether to start inspecting its bridges with C2D2.

The robot was originally named Paraswift and had a camera screwed on to it to film an area from all perspectives, explained Roland Siegwart, professor at the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems and Vice President of Research and Corporate Relations at ETH Zürich.

"We made the casing and wheels more robust and incorporated the corrosion-identification technology," said Elsener.

The robot has an electrode on its underside to measure potential differences as it moves along a structure. The team also attached a pink ball to the top of C2D2 so it's easier to control and locate. The ball has an extra camera to record its surroundings and avoid obstacles.

By next year, the team hopes the robot will be able to avoid obstacles on its own. The researchers also plan to swap the manual steering with a navigation system and are working on software for autonomous data analysis.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Colleges and Universities; Corrosion; Research; Roads/Highways; Robotics

Comment from Andrew Smith, (8/29/2014, 2:37 AM)

I would like to see those guys at least wearing hard hats and preferably not standing under the gizmo at all...

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

SAFE Systems, Inc.
SAFE Systems'
Blast Lights &
Deadman Switches

Halogen or LED blast lights available with our NEW urethane bumper. Switches available in many colors for color coding your hoses.

Ethox Chemicals LLC
Ethoflex® ER instantly upgrades your epoxy!

The only epoxy additive that improves flexibility, corrosion resistance, toughness, and adhesion, without hurting pot life, cure time, or increasing VOCs.

Minerals Research & Recovery

Sharpshot®XL is a new fast-cutting, low-dusting, cost-effective iron silicate abrasive. Call Patrick Conry: 502-552-5895 for details.

SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings
SSPC 2016 Register Now!

SSPC2016 is earlier this year, don't forget to book your plane tickets and hotel. See you soon. For more information visit

Safway Services
Suspended Access Made Easy With QuikDeck™

The smart choice for suspended access, QuikDeck’s interchangeable, lightweight components make them easy to set up and reassemble when you need to move.

HoldTight Solutions Inc.

Our HoldTight®102 salt remover & flash rust preventer prevents flash
rust by removing surface contaminants. It has no equal; only wannabees.
Contact us for your
nearest distributor.
(800) 319.8802

PPG Protective and Marine Coatings Group
Industrial strength performance in ONE can.

Now get the durability and protection of two components in one can: Amercoat® ONE, PSX® ONE and Sigmadur ONE.

Covestro (formerly Bayer)
Bayer MaterialScience is now Covestro.

The pioneering spirit of our first 150 years will drive the bold vision of our next 150: to develop the industry’s most innovative coatings solutions.

Thermion Inc
Buy Back Program

We are offering $5,000
credit for your old Model
This drive system is
being discontinued by
the manufacturer.
More information at

Atlantic Design, Inc.

what we did to this machine! Let ADI upgrade your machine, extending the life, efficiency, and value. Any make. Like new, but better! 866.Call.ADI

Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us

© Copyright 2000-2015, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail