Trials to select a robot that will inspect the urban drainage network and the sewer system

·Trials take place to select a robot to inspect the urban sewers remotely.

·During the week of 10 July 2017, expert advisors in robotics, should decide on the two consortiums that would go on into the project’s next phases, which will have a duration of one year each.

The previous week, on 6 and 7 July 2017, selection trials for the first phase of the European project ECHORD++ – PDTI – Urban Robotics – Sewer Inspection were carried out in the Passeig Sant Joan, sewer system. Once the finalists have been selected, a prototype robot will be made and small-scale trials will be carried out in order to choose the most appropriate option.

Inspecting the urban sewers can be a demanding task, even more so if the network extends over 1800 km, as in Barcelona.
Inspecting the urban sewers can be a demanding task, even more so if the network extends over 1800 km, as in Barcelona.

The three consortiums taking part in the project, ARSI (Aerial Robot for Sewer Inspection),  ROBODILLOS (A Networked Mobile Robotic Platform for Shared Autonomy Sewer Inspection Operations) and SIAR (Sewer Inspection Autonomous Robot), sent the relevant documentation for their proposals and carried out the in situ mobility, communication and autonomy tests.

During the second week of July, robotics experts advisors, will have to decide which two consortiums will go on to he following phases of the project, lasting one year each: Phase 2, in which the prototype robot for inspecting the sewer system will be finalised, and Phase 3, which will consist of small-scale trials with the aim of getting as close as possible to a commercially-viable product.

Further information about the project can be found on the website, in the PDTI – Urban Robotics – Sewer inspection section.

Improving inspection work for the system

In November 2014, Barcelona was chosen to develop a pilot project for robots that inspect underground urban drainage systems and sewer systems, as part of the European Union’s ECHORD++ innovation programme.

This European consortium selected Barcelona City Council’s project for improving inspection work on drainage systems and fostering research into an innovative system, in order to find a technological solution which could be extended to other cities around the world.

This urban-robot pilot programme for inspecting drainage and sewer systems will finish in 2018, approximately.

Lower consumption and risk, greater precision in maintenance work

Using urban robots for inspecting the city’s drainage and sewer systems will provide greater precision in compiling and managing data, through the use of 3D-scanner technology; optimising maintenance work and reducing the consumption of energy and raw materials.

The robots will be able to determine the amount of sediments inside the drainage and sewer system galleries, obstructions in the channels, through the use of various sensors, and collect information on possible structural anomalies, subsidence incidents and the general state of conservation of the underground systems.

Furthermore, the inspections carried out by the robots can be monitored remotely, and all the information compiled from images, sounds and the various sensors will be stored in a database in order to improve the overall management of the systems.

Drone robot inspecting the sewers.
Drone robot inspecting the sewers.

Inspection work on the urban drainage and sewer systems is currently performed manually by operational staff. In order to carry out these tasks, these professional operators have to work in confined spaces, with its associated risks, and perform their duties in extreme conditions of temperature and humidity, and in the presence of volatile substances, all of which makes carrying out any action in that environment extremely difficult and uncomfortable.

A 1,800 km drainage network with 15 rainwater-retention tanks

The City of Barcelona has a single rainwater and wastewater drainage system with a total extension of 1,800 km. 70% of the network is accessible or semi-accessible. while 30% of the channels are not accessible.

Barcelona’s urban drainage is vitally important because of some of the city’s determining characteristics, including its rainfall patterns, with some very high-intensity episodes, steep slopes in the mountainous areas and practically flat land nearer the seashore, with high population density and a high ratio of impermeable surface area throughout its territory..

In recent years, Barcelona City Council has put a lot of effort into reducing the impact of torrential rain on the environment, infrastructures and buildings, and minimising disruptions for the general public. It has provided the city with large-scale infrastructures and technological innovations.

Barcelona now has 15 rainwater-retention tanks, with a total regulated volume of 4,000,000 m3/year, as well as advanced management systems for the drainage network that make it possible to optimise the operation of the channels and reduce the risk of flooding and discharges into the environment.