Design considerations of robotic system for cleaning and inspection of large-diameter sewers



On behalf of the Emschergenossenschaft, a public wastewater utility based in Essen, Germany, the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation (IFF) in Magdeburg has developed a novel robotic system, the damage measuring and cleaning system (SVM-RS), for cleaning and inspecting large-diameter sewers that are partially filled and in normal operation. The SVM-RS was specifically designed and built for use in the Emscher sewer system and employs a multisensor approach for a high-resolution inspection of the pipe, both above and below the water. Furthermore, robotics technologies are used in combination with traditional high-pressure cleaning techniques to achieve high-quality cleaning results. In addition to the hardware design, a number of software developments in the areas of software architecture, image processing, and data fusion for understanding and presenting the data, as well as teleoperation techniques, have been carried out in the course of the project. Here automatic detection of damage as well as other features present in the environment has proven to be of importance. Design considerations and solutions for individual components of the cleaning and inspection are described within the context of the whole system, and the results of specific tests and experiments are presented. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.