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Multi sensor solution for the non-intrusive detection and analysis of underground features

To develop and integrate a multi sensor solution for the detection, analysis and characterisation of sub-surface features using non-destructive techniques.

The project aims to develop and integrate a multi-sensor solution for the detection, analysis and characterisation of sub-surface features using non-destructive techniques. Historically, numerous devices have been used in appropriate circumstances by utility and road engineers to detect and locate sub-surface features such as pipelines, cables, ground conditions and voids. No single device is capable of detecting all of these features and many require highly skilled and experienced operators to interpret the data. These same technologies have also been used to examine road construction and geophysical changes to ground conditions, structure and moisture content. Most utilities hold qualified or in some cases unqualified data, depending on their confidence in their data, with respect to the location of their services. Inevitably at times, data collection through excavation will discredit their data holdings. This data is frequently required by other utilities, highways authorities and contractors who excavate in roads and footpaths. Even with due care and attention unknown and/or wrongly recorded utility services to customers are disrupted by damage caused during excavation. Accurate detection, location and characterisation of underground features such as pipes will greatly assist in the reduction of disruption and repair costs. Over the years the prolonged and needless excavations, the disruption to services and the free flow of traffic, have become politically sensitive issues. Government directives and codes of practice on street works require greater cooperation from highway authorities and utilities and demand greater accuracy in the recording and location of underground services. This project aims to develop a tool capable of providing accurate information on the location of underground features. There are a variety of sensors used to locate and analyse sub-surface features; most require a highly skilled and experienced operator to interpret the data. The operator often relies on experience and intuition to determine the accurate location and characterisation of the feature, especially when using surface penetrating radar. The system will collate data from appropriate multi-sensor devices, focusing on the strengths of each device. The objective is to provide significantly more rigorous, reliable and objective data for management decisions, be it renovation or replacement. The innovation lies in the fusion and interpretation of the data from the variety of sources and automatically displaying the results with a high degree of confidence to minimise the requirement for expert interpretation. The primary sensors that will feed data into the computational core of the proposed system will be wide-spectrum Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), an Acoustic Leak Detection System (ALDS), a Radio Electric current Detection device (RED) and a Metal Detection device (MD). In a through ground deployment the GPR will detect electromagnetic discontinuities revealing buried utility assets or targets such as buried canisters, etc. The GPR will also reveal saturation envelopes from leaking pipes or vessels. The ALDS will detect leaks of fluids under pressure from pipes. The combination of GPR and ALDS data for leak detection is particularly effective, the former device to locate the general area of a leak and the latter to determine its precise location. An RED will discriminate electric cables from GP data merely showing the presence of a linear asset. An MD is used in the detection of relatively shallow metal targets. The exploratory phase of the project may identify additional sensors to be included. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be used to train the system to recognise and interpret features from each type of sensor and integrate the results to provide a high degree of confidence in the interpretation and characterisation of the detected feature. Split screen technology will be used to display the results allowing less experienced operators to use the equipment and interpret the results with greater confidence. Keywords: multi sensor, non-intrusive, underground features.
Acronym: 
MUSA
Project ID: 
3 328
Start date: 
15-11-2003
Project Duration: 
61months
Project costs: 
1 750 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Sensors/Multisensor Technology, Instrumentation
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.