Aerial robotics in building inspection and maintenance

Conference Article


International Conference on Smart, Sustainable and Sensuous Settlements Transformation (3SSettlements )





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Buildings need periodic revision about their state, materials degrade with time and repairs or renewals have to be made driven by maintenance needs or safety requirements. That happens with any kind of buildings and constructions: housing, architecture masterpieces, old and ancient buildings and industrial buildings. Currently, nearly all of these tasks are carried out by human intervention. In order to carry out the inspection or maintenance, humans need to access to roofs, façades or other areas hard to reach and otherwise potentially hazardous location to perform the task. In some cases, it might not be feasible to access for inspection. For instance, in industry buildings operation must be often interrupted to allow for safe execution of such tasks; these shutdowns not only lead to substantial production loss, but the shutdown and start-up operation itself causes risks to human and environment. In touristic buildings, access has to be restricted with the consequent losses and inconveniences to visitors. The use of aerial robots can help to perform this kind of hazardous operations in an autonomous way, not only teleoperated. Robots are able to carry sensors to detect failures of many types and to locate them in a previously generated map, which the robot uses to navigate. Some of those sensors are cameras in different spectra (visual, near-infrared, UV), laser, LIDAR, ultrasounds and inertial sensory system. If the sensory part is crucial to inspect hazardous areas in buildings, the actuation is also important: the aerial robot can carry small robots (mainly crawler) to be deployed to perform more in-depth operation where the contact between the sensors and the material is basic (any kind of metallic part: pipes, roofs, panels…). The aerial robot has the ability to recover the deployed small crawler to be reused again. In this paper, authors will explain the research that they are conducting in this area and propose future research areas and applications with aerial, ground, submarine and other autonomous robots within the construction field.



Author keywords

Building inspection, Failure detection, Aerial robots

Scientific reference

A. Grau, E. Guerra, Y. Bolea, A.M. Puig-Pey and A. Sanfeliu. Aerial robotics in building inspection and maintenance, 2018 International Conference on Smart, Sustainable and Sensuous Settlements Transformation, 2018, Munich, Germany, pp. 193-198.