After having managed Barcelona’s sewer network for more than 100 years, FCC’s Environment division is set to take its approach to a new level when it introduces a high-tech drone next year to help with inspections, and has published a video to highlight progress with the technology.
The Micro Airborne Vehicle is being developed in the project Aerial Robot for Sewer Inspection (ARSI) with Eurecat, in a consortium with other companies within the European Coordination Hub for Open Robotics Development (Echord++).
Given the challenging conditions in sewers, the drone has been fitting with a range of features, including: sensors to monitor air and water quality; a 3D camera for calculating position and speed; 2D laser to detect walls and calculate flight paths in real time; and an infrared sensor to measure distance to the ground and control altitude.
Other features of the drone are: autopilot; headlights; optimisation of equipment performance to reduce battery consumption and achieve longer autonomous operation.
Sewers represent challenging environments for human inspection, with risks of slipping and of postural harm. The use of a drone offers a means of avoiding these risks and of undertaking inspections more rapidly.
Raúl Hernández, head of FCC Environment’s Technical Department, says: ‘At this time, the project is in the advanced prototype stage. For FCC, this technological solution provides safety and comfort in the tasks, as well as very significant improvements in productivity rates and reduced costs.’
Pepa Sedó, Director of the Eurecat Robotics Unit, says: ‘This is the first time that the profitability of the use of drones in an activity such as the inspection of the sewage system has been analysed,’ adding: ‘The great flexibility and manoeuvering capability of drones makes them ideal vehicles for subsoil inspection.’
As well as FCC Environment and Eurecat, the consortium includes IBA and Simtech Design.
Watch the ARSI video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qe6DEbBYsJM
- Spain, FCC Environment, Eurecat, drone