Autonomous Wall-climbing Robots for Inspection and Maintenance of Concrete Bridges (AS-3)

Since 2002, the PI’s group has developed four generations of wall-climbing robots for NDE inspection of civil infrastructure. These robots combine the advantages of aerodynamic attraction and suction to achieve a desirable balance of strong adhesion and high mobility. They don’t require perfect sealing and can thus move on smooth and rough surfaces, such as brick, concrete, stucco, wood, glass, and metal. For example, Rise-Rover uses two drive modules to carry their middle compartment with payload up to 450 N. GPR-Rover and Mini GPR-Rover are custom designed to carry a GSSI’s GPR antenna for subsurface defect detection and utility survey on concrete structures such as bridges and tunnels. The robots can also carry other devices such as impact echo and ultrasonic flaw detectors for bridge evaluation. To date, all the robots are remotely controlled to scan concrete surfaces. Approach and Methodology: Even available, GPS signals cannot accurately pinpoint the location of subsurface flaws. Therefore, a fast visual odometry method is proposed to estimate the position and trajectory of a robot and in turn locate and mark the flaws. Features between consecutive images taken with a camera are detected and matched, and then fused with IMU (inertia measurement unit) data to achieve accurate motion control and feature registration/mapping. With this method, a robot with a camera can carry NDE devices, reach hard-to-access areas, take close-up pictures, scan the surfaces of bridge columns, girders, and decks (both top and bottom sides), record and wireless transmit NDE data to a host computer, log GPS coordinates, and record subsurface defect locations with respect to local landmarks at every sampling point for visualization and analysis. A robot can also be augmented with mechanisms and tools to perform maintenance actions such as cleaning, painting, and repairing. Overall Objectives: This project aims to develop motion control and localization methods to make wall-climbing robots a fully autonomous system with automated inspection process using various NDE devices and sensors, and design innovative mechanisms and tools and integrate them into the robots for maintenance actions. Scope of Work in Year 1: (1) Design an embedded controller for GPR-Rover and develop methods to eliminate the potential interference between GPR signal and robot circuit, (2) Develop accurate motion control and localization methods that enable the robot to track grid patterns and take NDE samples automatically, (3) Design a spray painting mechanism to mark defects, and (4) Evaluate the integrated robotic inspection system and the localization method using a GPR and a camera. Scope of Work in Year 2: (1) Develop a new robot with multiple chambers to overcome the limitation when a single-chamber robot crosses over deep gaps, and (2) Field test the new robot with a GPR antenna to scan hard-to-access places, take close-up pictures, sample and transmit GPR data back to a host computer for further analysis. Scope of Work in Year 3: (1) Develop a new climbing robot prototype (Impact-Rover) with an integrated impact sounding mechanism to collect sound data for detection of delamination, (2) Investigate sound data analysis methods in both time and frequency domains, (3) Test the hardware and software system in a concrete slab with known delamination.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $623,117
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Inspecting and Preserving Infrastructure through Robotic Exploration University Transportation Center

    Missouri University of Science and Technology
    Rolla, MO  United States  65409
  • Performing Organizations:

    City College of the City University of New York

    30 West Broadway, 11th Floor
    New York, NY  United States  10007
  • Principal Investigators:

    Xiao, Jizhong

  • Start Date: 20170301
  • Expected Completion Date: 20200930
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01645997
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Inspecting and Preserving Infrastructure through Robotic Exploration University Transportation Center
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747126
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Sep 13 2017 8:38PM