One thing is for sure – getting caught in a cave in is definitely not an idea of fun, especially for those who are claustrophobic in nature. In fact, it makes perfect sense for tunnels, including those that make up a subway route or mountain roads will need to be inspected on a regular basis just to make sure that no structural degradation has taken place, and if so, something needs to be done about it as soon as possible.Most of the time, the naked human eye would be the one that makes such an inspection, but the European Union ROBINSPECT program might offer an alternative that does a better job than normal humans.
A semi-autonomous robotic unit will run proceedings, where it comprises of a tiny unmanned vehicle that has a crane mounted on top of it. Right at the end of the crane lies a robotic arm that sports a plethora of sensors, where it will get to work throughout the entire length of the subway, motorway or tunnel to perform an inspection. It is touted to be sensitive enough to figure out cracks, faults like rust stains and corrosion, as well as exposed reinforcements, which could have been missed by regular human inspectors. The inspection speed stands at approximately one meter per second. It is said that a working prototype is tipped to be prepared by 2014, with the London underground being one of the early test beds.