The project AEROARMS (AErial RObotic system integrating multiple ARMS and advanced manipulation capabilities for inspection and maintenance, http://www.aeroarms-project.eu/) was launched last June in the kick-off meeting held in the School of Engineering of the University of Seville. This project, coordinated by Professor Aníbal Ollero, is funded by the European Commission program Horizon 2020 for Research and Development.
AEROARMS is a 4 years project with a budget over €5.7 million. The participants are the University of Seville (as coordinator), the Advanced Centre for Aerospace Technologies FADA-CATEC (Spain), the German Aerospace Centre DLR, the French National Centre for Scientific Research CNRS, the Italian Consortium of Universities CREATE, the Polytechnic University of Catalonia UPC (Spain) as well as the companies TÜV Nord Systems (Germany), Elektra UAS (Germany), ALSTOM Inspection Robotics (Switzerland) and SENSIMA (Switzerland).
The challenging objective of AEROARMS is the development of the first aerial robots in the world with multiple articulated arms and advanced manipulation capabilities. The aerial robots will be able to fly to inaccessible sites and perform manipulation tasks with two arms while flying or they will anchor to a structure, using other arm for accurate manipulation tasks. The robots will be applied to industrial inspection and maintenance tasks that currently require the use of scaffolds, cranes and manned aircrafts. These aerial robotic manipulators are an evolution of the unmanned aerial systems with the added possibility of physical interaction with the environment by means of articulated arms.
AEROAMS includes the demonstration of the developed technologies in oil and gas industries that currently involves very high maintenance costs (approximately €56.000 million a year). Then, the future use of a system as AEROARMS might have an important economic impact, in addition to performing tasks that can be dangerous for workers. Two particular applications will be demonstrated:
- Installation and maintenance of permanent Non Destructive Tests (NDT) sensors on remote components such as pipes, fire flares or structural components. The application involves the preparation of structures to install the sensors (drilling a hole into insulation, removing paint etc.), the installation of the sensors and the finishing of the structure.
- Deploying and maintaining a mobile robotic system permanently installed on a remote structure. Assuming the presence of a newly designed mobile robot allowing easy exchange and maintenance of components (e.g., batteries etc.), the application consists of the use of the aerial robot to maintain the robot permanently installed in the structure without costly and dangerous human operations.
The results of AEROARMS could be also applied to the inspection and maintenance of generation plants, critical infrastructures and others.
AEROARMS continues the work carried out in the FP7 European project ARCAS (Aerial Robotics Cooperative Aerial Systems, http://www.arcas-project.eu), in which the first aerial robots with 6 and 7 degrees of freedom arms and perception and planning capabilities have been developed and are being demonstrated in structure construction.