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Robot Inspector Gets the Big Jobs Done

Thursday, March 26, 2015

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Bridge inspectors tasked with scrutinizing vast expanses of concrete for critical signs of corrosion could soon have the help of a high-tech assistant.

Engineers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Nondestructive Testing IZFP are about to unveil a robot capable of independently inspecting concrete surfaces as large as several hundred square meters.

The bot, called BetoScan, improves on other mechanical inspectors by its ability to inspect large areas of corrosion, such as those that commonly afflict bridges, roadways, parking garages and other large structures and infrastructure.

Building a Better Bot

Most inspection systems thus far have been capable of inspecting only smaller surface areas, according to an announcement from Fraunhofer.

©Uwe Bellhäuser / Fraunhofer IZFP

One person can operate and monitor BetoScan as it independently scans and gathers data from large areas of concrete without impacting the surface, say developers at Fraunhofer IZFP.

The research organization is collaborating with the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) and industry experts on the program. The project received funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and the Energy InnoNet program.

BetoScan will take its bows April 13-17 at Hannover Messe, the world's largest trade fair for industrial technology, in Hanover, Germany.

What It Does

BetoScan is a self-propelled, self-navigating robot platform for nondestructive inspection sensors. Only one person is needed to operate and monitor the system, which can independently scan and inspect large areas of concrete for damage without impacting the surface, Fraunhofer reported.

"Our robot can easily inspect parking garage surfaces as large as several hundred square meters in one day and requires only one person to operate and monitor the system," said Ralf Moryson, an engineer at Fraunhofer IZFP.

The robot can scan obstacle-free concrete surfaces using a preselected grid while simultaneously recording the data acquired by the various inspection processes.

© / sebastian-julian

The robotic mounting system uses commercially available non-destructive sensors that can identify surface corrosion, developers say. Multiple nondestructive testing processes can be combined with the technology, and it creates a survey of the structure being inspected.

While scanning, the system also creates a survey of the structure being inspected.

How It Works

The cascadable mounting system for the inspection sensors allows the use and quick replacement of commercially available sensors.

When selecting sensors for the system, the developers focused on automated logging of the measurement results and on the use of well-established inspection methods.

"This provides an extensive inspection capability that ensures the timely identification of surface corrosion," the developers say.

A "major advantage" of the system is that it can integrate combinations of different nondestructive testing processes, says Moryson.

"The sensors analyze factors such as moisture content and the thickness of the concrete, as well as the depth and condition of the reinforcement," he says.

The complete measurement results can be graphically displayed so that the data can be administered, officials said.



Tagged categories: Bridges; Concrete; Concrete defects; Corrosion; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Infrastructure; Inspection; Parking Garages; Program/Project Management; Research; Robotics

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