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LTA explores the use of drones to inspect tunnels in Singapore

Nurdianah Md Nur | March 2, 2017
UAS and UV technologies might be fully deployed for tunnel inspections in the next five years if they prove to be effective in the trials

Besides commercial and consumer use, drones may soon be used for inspection purposes too.

To explore this opportunity, the Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday (1 March 2017) issued a Request for Information (RFI) to seek the industry's participation in the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Unmanned Vehicle (UV) technology for automated train and road tunnel inspections.

The trials should incorporate 360-degree video mapping of the tunnels, as well as software to automatically detect defects from the video taken and provide their location.

Currently, manual inspections are carried out regularly within rail and road tunnels to detect anomalies, such as cracks or water leakage.

LTA's road tunnel inspections also cover rainwater storage tanks and voided slab spaces where utility lines are located. These checks allow LTA to ascertain the health of the tunnel structures so that necessary maintenance can be carried out.

However, such checks are labour intensive and time-consuming. LTA hope that the UAS and UV technologies will improve the efficiency and accuracy of inspections, as well as provide engineers more time to focus on analysing captured data to recommend necessary remedial measures.

This RFI expands on LTA's proof-of-concept trials at 10 Thomson-East Coast Line sites, where UAS are being deployed to monitor work progress by taking aerial photographs and videos.

If UAS and UV technologies are found effective during these trials, LTA aims to fully deploy these technologies for tunnel inspections in the next five years.


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