Large public infrastructure facilities around the world like dams, cooling towers and bridges use cement as the main building material. Although made from a durable material many of these large assets have begun to age and are in need of periodic inspection to ensure their integrity. Current inspection routine involves setting up scaffolds that have to be moved around for personnel to reach to the whole of the surface.

The VORTEXSCAN proposal seeks to develop a vortex robot that will autonomously navigate the vertical surfaces of such structures while deploying a combination of non destructive inspection techniques. Air suction through a nozzle of a specific geometry will create a vortex and initiate a force that attaches the robot to a vertical surface while its wheels move it around. Novel phased array Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) will be one of the two NDT equipment carried by the robot. Low frequency ultrasonics will also be deployed and an innovative fusion of data from the two techniques will be performed. The fusion will diminish the drawbacks of each technique and create an accurate representation of the underlying material and its defects.

VORTEXSCAN will create a system that can rapidly and economically inspect large vertical concrete structures saving huge amounts currently spent during the manual periodic inspections. The system will target EUs electrical power industry structures such nuclear reactor containment, dams and cooling towers as a large number of these infrastructure types are beginning to age; some of them having been built nearly a century ago.