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Robotic hub launched for hazardous inspections

Manufacturing News

The University of Sydney has launched the Australian Robotic Inspection and Asset Management Hub (ARIAM) which researchers say will transform the way important assets are handled.

ARIAM’s work will reduce the need for people to enter dangerous or hazardous locations to maintain assets such as tunnels and underwater infrastructure, according to an announcement.

It will also help manage the looming ‘infrastructure cliff’, which will see many post-World War II infrastructure assets approach their end of life.

ARIAM’s projects have garnered interest from 15 industry partners including Thales, Reach Robotics, Abyss Solutions, and Nearmap.

In one example, Nexxis is developing a spider-like robot with magnetic feet, capable of crawling around metal structures and inspecting them for damage.

Led by Professor Ian Manchester from the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, the team plans to develop semi-autonomous and autonomous machines capable of inspecting and maintaining complex structures in challenging environments, removing the need for people to enter dangerous or hazardous locations.

Professor Manchester said: “This initiative marks a significant leap forward for robotics and will change the way industry operates.

“With new designs we can eliminate the risk of injury associated with manned operations to inspect remote or dangerous areas, such as tunnels or underwater infrastructure, and enter previously inaccessible areas.”

Professor Stefan Williams from the Australian Centre for Robotics and School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, said: “Our work has applications in public sector infrastructure, including roads and utility networks, but also in renewable energy, space, mining, and land care.”

The hub’s researchers said ARIAM will work with industry partners to develop robotic systems including aerial, marine and legged robots will demonstrate those skills in field trails.

ARIAM’s mission is to equip robots to autonomously collect data, creating a real-time representation of physical assets through ‘digital twins’: virtual models created with data collected by the robots.

With the right sensors, robots can capture various aspects of a physical asset, such as its structural integrity, temperature, movement and other relevant symptoms with the data integrated into the digital twin in real-time.

Further reading:
Nexxis launches EX-rated inspection robot

Picture: University of Sydney

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