Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fast building inspection from the air: Quiet flying robots do the work

Date:
July 9, 2014
Source:
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Many buildings in Germany are in need of renovation. The reasons for this are often aging building structures and environmental influences. In the future, flying inspection robots will be able to accelerate and simplify inspections, thus reducing the safety risk. Compared to many conventional methods, the inspection is more convenient, thanks to the assistance of an aerial robot, and can occur at shorter intervals. In addition, inspection time can be significantly shortened, usually without impeding use of the buildings.

Many buildings in Germany are in need of renovation. The reasons for this are often aging building structures and environmental influences. In the future, flying inspection robots will be able to accelerate and simplify inspections, thus reducing the safety risk.
Credit: © Uwe Bellhäuser

Many buildings in Germany are in need of renovation. The reasons for this are often aging building structures and environmental influences. In the future, flying inspection robots will be able to accelerate and simplify inspections, thus reducing the safety risk.

Quietly humming, the flying robot hovers up outside the high-rise. The miniature aircraft equipped with eight rotors slowly whirls upwards to the 11th floor. It examines the facade for damage, such as cracks, defective joints, or chipped and crumbling concrete. At a distance of two meters from the building, the octocopter scans the masonry. Also on board is a high-resolution, digital camera that takes detailed images of each part of the building. In addition, the material tester is equipped with sensors that adjust for wind gusts, maintaining stable attitudes and avoiding collisions with the building. As the remote-controlled robot works its way forward meter by meter, it is carefully monitored by Christian Eschmann. He is a researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for Non-Destructive Testing IZFP in Saarbrücken, Germany, where he develops and adapts micro-aircraft for building inspections.

Buildings, industrial plants and bridges have to bear heavy loads and are exposed to wind and weather. Many buildings in Germany were built in the postwar years and now show damage due to aging. "To inspect their condition and prevent hazards to people, a lot of effort still has to be devoted to buildings that are difficult to access," says Eschmann. To date, test engineers have inspected concrete according to the required tests with nothing but the naked eye, marking any cracks manually in 2D maps: an error-prone procedure. On top of that, places that are difficult to access or view are often only accessible by helicopters, cranes, platform vehicles, industrial climbers and scaffolding.

3D model images provide information about the state of the building structure

Compared to many conventional methods, the inspection is more convenient, thanks to the assistance of an aerial robot, and can occur at shorter intervals. In addition, inspection time can be significantly shortened, usually without impeding use of the buildings. "For a 20 by 80 meter wide façade, a test engineer needs about two to three days. Our octocopter needs three to four hours for this," says the researcher. Cracks and other flaws can now be digitally photographed in high resolution. This permits quick conclusions about the state of a building's structure. If necessary, the octocopter can also be equipped with a thermal imaging camera, to check things such as building insulation.

The image yield is high: a mere 15-minute flight can result in up to 1,200 photos. On the computer, the individual images are combined to create an overall picture, and the resulting 2D and 3D data models illustrate the visually imageable condition of the building structure. In the future, there will be software to delete any superfluous images. A complete software suite is planned for the future, including damage recognition, image processing, a database and documentation, as well as the automation of all operations -- including stitching of individual images and identification of crack patterns. The octocopter already took to the air in 2011 for its first inspection. Since then, it has completed numerous test-measurement flights. So far, it has needed to be controlled manually. Eschmann and his colleagues are currently working on navigation sensors which will control the flying robot in the future. Following a predetermined pattern, these sensors will steer the octocopter along the façades -- floor by floor, from one side to the other. "It's a bit like flying on rails," says the engineer. This automation process will certainly require another year of development, though, says the researcher. Use of the aerial robot poses no risk to bystanders or passers-by. The device is equipped with eight electric motors. If one should fail, it can always be safely landed.

"Our micro-airplane are no substitute for experts or a close-up inspection. However, the octocopter accelerates the test procedure and enables permanent monitoring and documentation from the beginning. Design defects and warranty claims can be identified at an early stage, so appropriate repair measures can be taken in time. This means more security for buildings and people," says Eschmann.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Fast building inspection from the air: Quiet flying robots do the work." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709104855.htm>.
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. (2014, July 9). Fast building inspection from the air: Quiet flying robots do the work. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709104855.htm
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Fast building inspection from the air: Quiet flying robots do the work." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709104855.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — Magic Leap isn't publicizing much more than a description of its product, but it’s been enough for Google and others to invest more than $500M. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins