FCC launches video showcasing ARSI, a pioneering drone inspection project in Barcelona

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FCC has published a video highlighting its pioneering project Aerial Robot for Sewer Inspection (ARSI) which it is developing with Eurecat, in a consortium with other companies within the framework of the European Echord++ (European Coordination Hub for Open Robotics Development).

The innovative micro airborne vehicle (drone) equipped with multiple sensors has been designed to speed up, facilitate and improve the inspection of Barcelona’s 1,500 km sewerage system. The intelligent robotic solution, that will help reduce human risk in the inspection process, will go into service across the city next year.

FCC Aqualia central, Inodoro

FCC’s Environment division has more than 100 years’ experience in managing, cleaning and maintaining sewerage networks, including Barcelona’s which it has been manging since 1911. As the head of FCC Environment’s Technical Department in Barcelona, Raúl Hernández, explains in the video, “These networks are difficult spaces to work in because they are relatively small and narrow, although they vary in size. The floors and surfaces are slippery, there’s no lighting at all, and sometimes there are even problems with gases.”

The drone has been equipped the following features to overcome these issues:

  • Sensors to monitor air and water quality
  • 3D camera to calculate its position and speed
  • 2D laser to detect walls and calculate flight paths in real time
  • Infrared sensor to measure its distance from the ground and control its altitude
  • Autopilot
  • Headlights to light up a pitch-dark environment
  • Optimisation of equipment performance to reduce battery consumption and achieve longer autonomy

Another major benefit is the amount of information that can be acquired and consulted objectively for long periods of time. This technology also improves productivity, since it enables us to complete inspection tasks along the entire length of a sewer more quickly, because instead of walking through it, we’re flying through it.”

The Director of the Eurecat Robotics Unit, Pepa Sedó, notes that, “this is the first time that the profitability of the use of drones in an activity such as the inspection of the sewage system has been analysed,”. From her point of view, “the great flexibility and manoeuvring capability of drones makes them ideal vehicles for subsoil inspection.”