Robot to inspect piles under quake-damaged houses


UC postgraduate student Andre Geldenhuis, supervisor Chris Hann and Scion scientist Richard Parker

4 February 2013

The University of Canterbury has produced a small rover robot which can inspect and video piles under quake-damaged buildings and houses.

UC postgraduate student Andre Geldenhuis has been testing the robot over summer as part of a scholarship programme. He will present his findings at a public event on campus on February 8.

"It runs off a simple programme from a laptop. The robot can be placed into the under-floor space below houses.  It can be controlled using a laptop so that the video feed can be displayed on screen and it is driven with a joystick or a game pad,’’ Geldenhuis said today. 

"We are not aware of any other under-floor rovers in New Zealand. Quad-copters have been used for building inspection in Christchurch but I am unaware of any under-floor rovers being used.’’

He said the specifications were designed for house pile inspection. People were generally not keen to crawl under houses, especially in Christchurch.   If an earthquake occurred while they were under the floor and there was liquefaction, they could drown. 

"What they tend to do instead is pull up the floorboards which is expensive for everybody involved. The assessment of earthquake damage to structures can be an arduous and at times, dangerous requiring access to confined spaces.

"Our rover robot allows inspectors to see and measure damage in the parts of buildings that are difficult to access.’’

He said the UC rover robot uses an array of sensors to identify and map the size and extent of cracks and measure damage under a building. The rover carries a light and a video and still camera. High definition video and still imagery records the condition of piles and other structures beneath houses.

Geldenhuis’s supervisor Dr Chris Hann has been working with Dr Richard Parker at Scion on commercial applications of the device.

For further informationplease contact:
Kip Brook
Media Consultant
Communications and External Relations
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 3325
Mobile: 027 5030 168
kip.brook@canterbury.ac.nz