MADRID, Spain – Spanish firm FCC is pioneering a drone project to speed up, facilitate and improve the inspection of Barcelona’s 1,500 km sewerage system.
The Aerial Robot for Sewer Inspection (ARSI) is equipped with multiple sensors to monitor water and air quality, including a 3D camera to calculate its position and a 2D laser to detect walls and calculate flight paths in real time.
Still in the prototype stage, the project is being developed in conjunction with Eurecat, in a consortium with other companies within the framework of the European Echord++ (European Coordination Hub for Open Robotics Development).
FCC believes that using a drone can improve productivity, as it allows for the completion of inspection tasks along the entire length of a sewer more quickly than a person can inpect while walking.
Pepa Sedó, director of the Eurecat Robotics Unit, said: “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…the great flexibility and manoeuvring capability of drones makes them ideal vehicles for subsoil inspection."
Raúl Hernández, head of FCC Environment’s technical department in Barcelona, said: “These networks are difficult spaces to work in because they are relatively small and narrow, although they vary in size. The floors and surfaces are slippery, there’s no lighting at all, and sometimes there are even problems with gases.”
FCC’s Environment division has been maintaining Barcelona’s sewerage networks since 1911.