This research has four stages:
Stage 1 (2006-2007): “Autonomous Systems for Road Bridge Maintenance - Stage I”: scoping study and proof of concepts;
Stage 2 (2007-2010): “A Robotic System for Steel Bridge Maintenance”. This stage focused on developing methodologies to enable a robotic system to perform maintenance tasks associated with complex civil infrastructure. The primary application is to autonomously remove paint containing hazardous materials such as lead from important traffic infrastructures such as steel bridges. A prototype autonomous system was developed and the key issues in deploying such a system in the field was addressed.
Stage 3 (2011-2012): “Development of Grit-blasting Assistive Devices for Steel Bridge Maintenance (RTA Harbour Bridge)” with the focus on developing operational grit-blasting robots for practical applications.
Stage 4: (2013-Current): Commercialization. A start-up company, SABRE Autonomous Solutions, is formed.
This research has addressed a number of challenges in developing autonomous robots for complex steel bridge structure maintenance. The research outcomes include: (1) Sensing technology and algorithms for object ranging and surface classification; (2) Exploration algorithms that enable robot manipulator-based exploration of complex three-dimensional (3D) environments; (3) Algorithms that can efficiently build 3D maps of complex steel structures; (4) Algorithms that solve the problem of efficient on-line robot path and blasting planning; (5) Collision detection and avoidance algorithms that make it possible for a large robotic manipulator to move safely in complex 3D environments, including the 3D force-field approach for collision avoidance. (6) Methods for human-robot-environment interaction; and (7) Ease of user-robot interaction, facilitated by an interface designed jointly by the project team and bridge maintenance professionals.
Two prototype autonomous grit-blasting robots have been developed and tested. Practical deployment on the Sydney Harbour Bridge has proven that this robot is able (1) to autonomously sense and explore an unknown complex 3D environment, build a 3D map, plan collision-free motion and maximise grit-blasting coverage whilst minimising blasting time; (2) conduct abrasive blasting operation without requiring users to write a program; (3) provide consistent quality and improved efficiency.
- Palitha Manamperi
- Philip Brooks
- Waruna Kaluarachichi, et al.
- Gavin Paul
- Nathan Kirchner
- Pholchai Chotiprayanakul
- Andrew To
- Dalong Wang
- Gregory Peters
- David Rushton-Smith
- Stephen Webb
- Stefan Lie
- and many engineers from the RMS of NSW
- ARC Linkage Project
- Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) Partnership Fund. RTA is now known as Roads and Maritime Service (RMS)
- SABRE Autonomous Solutions
- N. Kirchner, D.K. Liu, G. Dissanayake, “An algorithmic extension to laser based range finders that introduces the novel function of non-contact material type identification”, Provisional Patent Number: 2007904898, Type of work: Software, 10 September 2007
- BBC News: Grit-blasting robots clean Sydney Harbour Bridge, 18 July 2013
- The Robot Report: “Sydney Harbor Bridge Gets Blasted By Robots”, 17 Feb 2014
- Powerhouse Museum, Engineering Excellence Awards 2013
- ABC News 24: The Business at 8:30pm on ABC 24, 19 Nov 2013
- UTS News: Bridge workers can rejoice with UTS robot award wins, 18 Nov 2013
- Robots Today: Robot Cleaning the Sydney Harbour Bridge, 18 July 2013
- Sydney Morning Herald: “Spick and span”, 18 July 2013
- Sydney Morning Herald: “Start-up seals robot funding deal”, 18 July 2013
- News.com.au: “Robots take over Sydney Harbour Bridge”, 17 July 2013
- International Federation of Robotics (IFR) press release, May 2013
Relevant publications (selected)
- G. Paul, N.M. Kwok, D.K. Liu (2013), “A novel surface segmentation approach for robotic manipulator-based maintenance operation planning, Automation in Construction, Vol. 29 pp136-147, January 2013
- P. Chotiprayanakul, D.K. Liu, G. Dissanayake (2012), “Human-robot-environment interaction interface for robotic grit-blasting of complex steel bridges”, Automation in Construction, Vol 27, pp11-23, Nov. 2012
- G. Paul, S. Webb, D.K. Liu and G. Dissanayake (2011), “Autonomous robot manipulator-based exploration and mapping system for bridge maintenance”, Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Vol. 59, Issues 7-8, July-August, pp543-554.
- G. Paul, D.K. Liu, N. Kirchner and G. Dissanayake (2009), “An effective approach to simultaneous mapping and surface-type identification of complex 3D environments”, Journal of Field Robotics, 26 (11-12): pp915-933, November-December 2009;
- N. Kirchner, D.K. Liu, G. Dissanayake (2009), “Surface type classification with a laser range finder”, IEEE Sensors Journal, Vol. 9, No. 9, pp1160-1168; September 2009;
- W. K. To, G. Paul, N.M. Kwok, D.K. Liu (2009), An efficient trajectory planning approach for autonomous robots in complex bridge environments”, International Journal of Computer Aided Engineering and Technology, Vol.1, No.2, pp185-208, January 2009.
- N. Kirchner, D. Hordern, D.K. Liu and G. Dissanayake (2008), "Capacitive sensor for object ranging and material type identification", Sensors and Actuators A: Physical, Volume 148, Issue 1, pp 96-104, 4 November 2008.
- J. Xu, D.K. Liu, G. Fang (2007), “An efficient method for collision detection and distance queries in a robotic bridge maintenance system”, in T.-J. Tarn, S.B. Chen and C. Zhou (Eds), “Robotic Welding, Intelligence and Automation”, Lecture Notes in Control and Information Sciences (Vol. 362), Springer-Verlag, 2007 (ISBN: 978-3-540-73373-7), pp71-82.
- G. Paul, D.K. Liu, N. Kirchner(2007), “An algorithm for surface growing from laser scan generated point clouds”, in T.-J. Tarn, S.B. Chen and C. Zhou (Eds), “Robotic Welding, Intelligence and Automation”, Lecture Notes in Control and Information Sciences (Vol. 362), Springer-Verlag, 2007 (ISBN: 978-3-540-73373-7), pp481-491.
- S. Sehestedt, G. Paul, D. Rushton-Smith and D.K. Liu (2013), “Prior knowledge Assisted Fast 3D Map Building of Structured Environments for Practical Applications”, Proceedings of the 9th IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering (CASE 2013), August 17‐21, 2013, Madison, Wisconsin, pp1052-1058
- S. Lie, D.K. Liu, B. Bongers (2012), “A cooperative approach to the design of an Operator Control Unit for a semi-autonomous grit-blasting robot”, Proceedings of the Australasian Conference on Robotics and Automation, 3-5 December 2012, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, 7 pages
- A.W.K. To, G. Paul, D. Rushton-Smith, D.K Liu and G. Dissanayake (2012), “Automated and cost-effective calibration of a robot manipulator-mounted IR range camera for steel bridge maintenance”, Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Field and Service Robotics (FSR2012), July 16-19, 2012, Sendai/Matsushima, Japan, pp1-14
- P.B. Manamperi, P.A. Brooks, W. Kaluarachchi, G. Peters, A. Ho, S. Lie, A. To, G. Paul, D. Rushton-Smith, S. Webb, D.K. Liu, G. Dissanayake (2011), “Robotic grit-blasting: engineering challenges”, Proceedings of the 8th Austroads Bridge Conference (ABC 2011), 31 October to 5 November 2011, Sydney, Australia, pp321-330
- P. Chotiprayanakul, D.K. Liu and G. Paul (2011), “Effect of view distance and movement scale on haptic-based teleoperation of a sand-blasting robotic system for complex steel bridge maintenance”, Proceedings of the 28th International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction (ISARC 2011), 29 June - 2 July, 2011, Seoul, Korea, pp1019-1024
- P. Chotiprayanakul, D.K Liu and G. Dissanayake (2011), “An extended hand movement model for haptic-based remote operation of a steel bridge maintenance robot”, Proceedings of the 28th International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction (ISARC 2011), 29 June - 2 July, 2011, Seoul, Korea, pp1196-1202
- G. Paul, S. Webb, D.K. Liu, G. Dissanayake (2010), “A robotic system for steel bridge maintenance: field testing”, Proceedings of the 2010 Australasian Conference on Robotics and Automation (ACRA 2010), 8 pages, 1-3 December, 2010, Brisbane, Australia
- A.W.K. To, G. Paul and D.K.Liu (2010), “Image segmentation for surface material-type classification using 3d geometry information”, Proceedings of the 2010 IEEE International Conference on Information and Automation (ICIA’2010), pp1717-1722, June 20-23, 2010, Harbin, China
- D.K. Liu, G. Dissanayake, P.B. Manamperi, P.A. Brooks, G. Fang, G. Paul, S. Webb, N. Kirchner, P. Chotiprayanakul, N. M. Kwok, T.R. Ren (2008), “A robotic system for steel bridge maintenance: research challenges and system design”, Proceedings of the Australasian Conference on Robotics and Automation (ACRA 08), 3-5 December 2008, Canberra, Australia, 7 pages.
- M. Clifton, G. Paul, N.M. Kwok, D.K. Liu, D. Wang (2008), “Evaluating performance of multiple RRTs”, Proceedings of the IEEE/ASME International Conference on Mechatronic and Embedded Systems and Applications, October 12-15, 2008, Beijing, China, pp564-569
- P. Chotiprayanakul, D. Wang, N. M. Kwok, and D. K. Liu (2008), “A haptic-based human robot interaction approach for robotic grit blasting", Proceedings of the 25th International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction (ISARC 2008), Vilnius, Lithuania, June 27-29, 2008, pp148-154.
- P. Chotiprayanakul, D.K. Liu, D. Wang, G. Dissanayake (2007), “A 3-dimensional force field method for robot collision avoidance in complex environments”, Proceedings of the 24th International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction (ISARC 2007), 19-21 September 2007, Kochi, Kerala, India, pp139-145. (Best student paper award)
- N. Kirchner, D.K. Liu, G. Dissanayake (2006), “Bridge maintenance robotic arm: capacitive sensor for obstacle ranging in particle laden air”, Proceedings of the 23rd International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction 2006 (ISARC 2006), October 3-5, 2006, Tokyo, Japan, pp596-601 (Best paper award)