Mon, 04 April, 2022
Technological advancements in inspection systems are becoming more prevalent in multiple industries. An example that illustrates this is the Autopsy project focusing on a smart inspection system for critical energy infrastructures. Autopsy, on which TWI Hellas is collaborating with the Center for Research and Technology-Hellas (CERTH) and the Testing, Research & Standards Center (TRSC), has been funded by “Research - Create – Innovate”, Research, Technological Development and Innovation State Aid Action for a 30 month period and is estimated to conclude in January 2023.
Autopsy aims to design and develop a revolutionary robotic drone system that can effectively inspect critical energy infrastructures to identify errors or problems, and prevent sabotage or suspicious movements, in the outdoor part of the power plant facilities of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) in Greece. The project's ultimate goal is to achieve autonomous inspection of large-scale facilities and energy infrastructures by employing a system of multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), commonly known as drones. The drone system will ensure the smooth functioning of the power plant’s facilities, while preventing destructive incidents, like fires, work accidents and damage due to system failures, from happening due to inadequate inspection.
Additionally, both the power plant operating staff and the environment will benefit from the drone inspection since people will not be harmed and the natural surroundings will not be in danger. More specifically, the research project results will be used to detect and identify damage to power generation units, thermal/hydroelectric stations, transportation lines, dams and mines.
TWI Hellas is a critical contributor to Autopsy with responsibility for the integration of sensors and electronics. The team is working on obstacle detection through laser sensors to achieve optimal obstacle avoidance, and their remit also includes the development of path planning algorithms for multiple drones as well as the monitoring system for the drone fleet’s missions.
Athanasios Mastrogeorgiou, a Senior Robotics Engineer working on Autopsy, said of TWI Hellas’ role in the project "We investigated the obstacle detection problem and developed a mapping system able to build a local map incrementally. Assuming that the global trajectory is computed by an offline algorithm, we also formulated an optimisation problem that re-plans the local trajectory of the UAV, enabling it to follow the global one while avoiding un-modelled obstacles on its way.”