Robotic and Autonomous Systems for Resilient Infrastructure

Robert Richardson, Raul Fuentes, Tim Chapman, Michael Cook, James Scanlan, Zhibin Li, David Flynn

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Abstract

Our economic infrastructure is the dense network of systems providing energy, transport, water, waste management, telecommunications and flood defence that enable the essential services on which our everyday activities depend. An effective infrastructure requires continuous activity; creation, inspection, repair, maintenance, renewal and upgrading to satisfy
society’s ever-increasing requirements
for the connectivity, mobility and access
to resources that underpin economic prosperity. The engineering processes associated with this activity can interrupt physical infrastructure, impacting heavily on the function of society; power cuts reduce productivity, road works cause transport delays and increased pollution from cars, and reduction in digital connectivity impacts upon all economic sectors.
Our future vision is of a society where infrastructure engineering is undertaken with zero disruption to human activity and zero environmental impact.
Robots and Autonomous systems (RAS) will play an important role in achieving
this vision. Most disruption is caused
by activities required to provide human operatives with safe access to infrastructure artefacts. We must dig trenches to
access pipes, build gantries to access overhead cables, or close roads to protect those working on live carriageways. In contrast, RAS can operate in dangerous
and challenging locations, such as
inside underground pipes, or at height underneath bridges, or on live roads to perform inspection, repair, maintenance and removal tasks. This will positively disrupt the infrastructure engineering sector by improving speed, quality and timeliness of infrastructure engineering whilst reducing direct costs, economic impacts, material waste, energy usage, environmental damage, and risk to human operators.
The UK is in an excellent position to
exploit these benefits. We have a dense, mature infrastructure that needs frequent interventions, and we have world-leading commercial and academic expertise in RAS. But societal and technological barriers need to be overcome to achieve the full potential of RAS in Infrastructure Engineering to be realised. This white paper highlights four key action priorities:
• Investment in interlinked basic research and technology transfer is required to pull advanced robotic technology into infrastructure engineering; only a small amount of UK government funded robotics research has been allocated to develop infrastructure robotics.
• Investment into the whole infrastructure supply chain will be needed to
support uptake, training and new business models to accommodate
the autonomous future.
• Industry and Universities should work together to develop test facilities where infrastructure robots can be allowed
to gracefully fail, and be evaluated and improved. With a few exceptions, current test facilities are small-scale, fragmented and uncoordinated
and industry will need financial and commercial incentives and protection to share, operate and manage test facilities that advance the development of robust robotic solutions for the benefit of the sector.
• Infrastructure robotics should be developed in partnership with the general public and community organisations to tackle perceived challenges around loss of jobs. Programmes should be put in place to train the next generation of “robot- savvy” infrastructure engineers, including advanced apprenticeships, degree programs and doctorial training schemes.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUK-RAS Network
Commissioning bodyUK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2017

Publication series

NameUK-RAS White Papers
ISSN (Print)2398-4422

Fingerprint

Robotics
Robots
Test facilities
Economics
Repair
Inspection
Pipe
Industry
Technology transfer
Waste management
Supply chains
Telecommunication
Environmental impact
Mathematical operators
Cables
Pollution
Railroad cars
Productivity
Engineers
Costs

Keywords

  • Robotics
  • Resilience
  • infrastructure, rating system, suggestive measures, sustainability, UAE

Cite this

Richardson, R., Fuentes, R., Chapman, T., Cook, M., Scanlan, J., Li, Z., & Flynn, D. (2017). Robotic and Autonomous Systems for Resilient Infrastructure. (UK-RAS White Papers). UK-RAS Network.
Richardson, Robert ; Fuentes, Raul ; Chapman, Tim ; Cook, Michael ; Scanlan, James ; Li, Zhibin ; Flynn, David. / Robotic and Autonomous Systems for Resilient Infrastructure. UK-RAS Network, 2017. (UK-RAS White Papers).
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Richardson, R, Fuentes, R, Chapman, T, Cook, M, Scanlan, J, Li, Z & Flynn, D 2017, Robotic and Autonomous Systems for Resilient Infrastructure. UK-RAS White Papers, UK-RAS Network.

Robotic and Autonomous Systems for Resilient Infrastructure. / Richardson, Robert; Fuentes, Raul; Chapman, Tim; Cook, Michael; Scanlan, James; Li, Zhibin; Flynn, David.

UK-RAS Network, 2017. (UK-RAS White Papers).

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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AU - Richardson, Robert

AU - Fuentes, Raul

AU - Chapman, Tim

AU - Cook, Michael

AU - Scanlan, James

AU - Li, Zhibin

AU - Flynn, David

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N2 - Our economic infrastructure is the dense network of systems providing energy, transport, water, waste management, telecommunications and flood defence that enable the essential services on which our everyday activities depend. An effective infrastructure requires continuous activity; creation, inspection, repair, maintenance, renewal and upgrading to satisfysociety’s ever-increasing requirementsfor the connectivity, mobility and accessto resources that underpin economic prosperity. The engineering processes associated with this activity can interrupt physical infrastructure, impacting heavily on the function of society; power cuts reduce productivity, road works cause transport delays and increased pollution from cars, and reduction in digital connectivity impacts upon all economic sectors.Our future vision is of a society where infrastructure engineering is undertaken with zero disruption to human activity and zero environmental impact.Robots and Autonomous systems (RAS) will play an important role in achievingthis vision. Most disruption is causedby activities required to provide human operatives with safe access to infrastructure artefacts. We must dig trenches toaccess pipes, build gantries to access overhead cables, or close roads to protect those working on live carriageways. In contrast, RAS can operate in dangerousand challenging locations, such asinside underground pipes, or at height underneath bridges, or on live roads to perform inspection, repair, maintenance and removal tasks. This will positively disrupt the infrastructure engineering sector by improving speed, quality and timeliness of infrastructure engineering whilst reducing direct costs, economic impacts, material waste, energy usage, environmental damage, and risk to human operators.The UK is in an excellent position toexploit these benefits. We have a dense, mature infrastructure that needs frequent interventions, and we have world-leading commercial and academic expertise in RAS. But societal and technological barriers need to be overcome to achieve the full potential of RAS in Infrastructure Engineering to be realised. This white paper highlights four key action priorities:• Investment in interlinked basic research and technology transfer is required to pull advanced robotic technology into infrastructure engineering; only a small amount of UK government funded robotics research has been allocated to develop infrastructure robotics.• Investment into the whole infrastructure supply chain will be needed tosupport uptake, training and new business models to accommodatethe autonomous future.• Industry and Universities should work together to develop test facilities where infrastructure robots can be allowedto gracefully fail, and be evaluated and improved. With a few exceptions, current test facilities are small-scale, fragmented and uncoordinatedand industry will need financial and commercial incentives and protection to share, operate and manage test facilities that advance the development of robust robotic solutions for the benefit of the sector.• Infrastructure robotics should be developed in partnership with the general public and community organisations to tackle perceived challenges around loss of jobs. Programmes should be put in place to train the next generation of “robot- savvy” infrastructure engineers, including advanced apprenticeships, degree programs and doctorial training schemes.

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KW - Robotics

KW - Resilience

KW - infrastructure, rating system, suggestive measures, sustainability, UAE

M3 - Commissioned report

T3 - UK-RAS White Papers

BT - Robotic and Autonomous Systems for Resilient Infrastructure

PB - UK-RAS Network

ER -

Richardson R, Fuentes R, Chapman T, Cook M, Scanlan J, Li Z et al. Robotic and Autonomous Systems for Resilient Infrastructure. UK-RAS Network, 2017. (UK-RAS White Papers).