Micro-Measurement and Monitoring System for Ageing Underground Infrastructures (Underground M3)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering

Abstract

One of the greatest challenges facing civil engineers in the 21st century is the stewardship of ageing infrastructure. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the networks of tunnels and pipelines that lie beneath the major cities around the world. Much of this underground infrastructure was constructed more than half a century ago and there is widespread evidence of deterioration of this old infrastructure. Advances in the development of computer vision and miniature electromechanical sensors offer intriguing possibilities that can radically alter the paradigms underlying existing methods of condition assessment and monitoring. Future monitoring systems will undoubtedly comprise Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) and will be designed around the capabilities of autonomous nodes. Each node in the network will integrate specific sensing capabilities with communication, data processing and power supply. This proposal comprises an integrated research program to evaluate and develop prototype WSN systems called the Underground M3 system for condition assessment and monitoring of ageing underground infrastructure. The main aim of the proposed research is to develop a system that uses a tied approach to monitor the degree and rate of deterioration. It is proposed that the system comprises of (1) Tier 1: Micro-detection using advances in computer vision and (2) Tier 2: Micro-monitoring and communication using advances in MEMs and wireless communication. These potentially low-cost technologies will be able to reduce costs associated with end-of-life structures, which is essential to the viability of rehabilitation, repair and reuse. Another important benefit is the increased safety levels they can provide to cope with natural disasters such as climate change, flood warnings and earthquakes. The research will be conducted in close co-operation with an interdisciplinary group of partners including public and private sector agencies responsible for maintenance and operation of underground infrastructure.

Publications

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Chaiyasarn K (2009) Image Mosaicing via Quadratic Surface Estimation with Priors for Tunnel Inspection in 2009 IEEE International Conference on Image Processing

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LAVER R (2013) Permeability of aged grout around tunnels in London in Géotechnique

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Ferri, M. (2009) Design and Prototyping of a MEMS-based Crackmeter for Structural Monitoring in Proceedings of the 15th International conference on solid-state sensors, actuators and microsystems

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Soga K (2010) Innovation in monitoring technologies for underground structures in Proceedings of the 1st International Conference (ICITG)

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Cheung L (2010) Optical fibre strain measurement for tunnel lining monitoring in Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Geotechnical Engineering

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Soga K (2010) Micro-measurement and monitoring system for ageing underground infrastructure (UndergroundM3), in S(3)T2010 - School and Symposium on Smart Structural Systems Technologies

 
Description Advances in the development of computer vision and micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) offer intriguing possibilities that can radically alter the paradigms underlying existing methods of condition assessment and monitoring. Future monitoring systems will undoubtedly comprise Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) and will be designed around the capabilities of autonomous nodes. Each node in the network will integrate specific sensing capabilities with communication, data processing and power supply. The main objective of this collaborative project with Universidad Politecnica de Catalunya, CNR-Italy and Czech Technical University in Prague was to develop an innovative system called the "Underground M3 system" for condition assessment and monitoring of ageing underground infrastructure using these emerging technologies.

A state-of-the-art computer vision system has been developed for tunnel inspection. The proxy geometry is recovered from a sparse set of 3D points reconstructed from digital images. With this system it is possible to identify regions of change in images of the same scene taken at different times since the images have spatial coordinates assigned. This is much needed for inspection since engineers will be able to assess the deterioration rate of a structure and then devise regime for repair. The field demonstration of the system at London Underground, Barcelona Metro and Prague Metro showed its capability.

A novel crack monitoring technology for low power, structural monitoring based on MEMS strain sensors has been developed. For the MEMS sensor used in the crackmeter, the strain resolution achieved was 50 ne, which is much smaller than that of conventional strain measurement devices (1-10 micro strain). Vacuum packaging of MEMS strain sensors soldered on a steel bar has been implemented in the crackmeter prototype and it will be tested in Prague Metro in year 2011. In addition, several types of MEMS-based strain sensors were fabricated and some of them can potentially open a new door for MEMS resonant strain sensor functional in ambient environment and might largely reduce the complexity and cost of the vacuum package for strain sensors
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Wireless sensor network monitoring has been performed for the first time in tunnels of London Underground, Prague Metro and Barcelona Metro. In London, WSN monitoring was performed on a concrete lining tunnel, which has been showing signs of concrete spalling. The findings, backed up by other data collected from conventional inspections, led London Underground to replace the tunnel lining, which is a costly repair, but a better-value solution than managing the tunnel through monitoring and local strengthening. In Prague, WSN monitoring was conducted at two locations to examine the long term effects of the damages caused by flooding in August 2001. The measurements show very little movements, which reduced the concerns of the underground operator. In Barcelona, WSN monitoring was conducted at Sagrada Família Metro station, which had a risk of potential damage when a new metro was constructed underneath. The measurement showed negligible tunnelling induced movements, which demonstrated successful tunnel construction as well as the effectiveness of WSN monitoring.
Exploitation Route The technologies developed in this project can be commercialised through licensing to existing companies or setting up a spin-out company. This is now initiated by establishing the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction, which is funded by ESPRC and TSB.
Sectors Construction

 
Description The need for high quality measurements is of great importance to civil engineering practitioners and is also of considerable interest within research and academic circles because of the resulting improved understanding of infrastructure performance. The findings from the field demonstrations show that the technologies developed in this project (Computer vision inspection tool, Micro-electro-mechanical strain measurement system and wireless sensor network system) have great potentials to be used for monitoring large scale civil engineering infrastructure during its working life, which will lead to better operational performance and design for future infrastructure.
First Year Of Impact 2009
Sector Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Innovation Knowledge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction
Amount £4,956,319 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I019308/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2011 
End 03/2016
 
Description Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction - Collaborative Programme Tranche 1
Amount £2,311,585 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K000314/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2012 
End 09/2016
 
Description Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction - Collaborative Programme Tranche 2
Amount DZD 2,184,284 (DZD)
Funding ID EP/L010917/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2014 
End 09/2016
 
Description Metronet Alliance 
Organisation Metronet Alliance
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
 
Description Sol Data Ltd 
Organisation Sol Data Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
 
Description Tube Lines Ltd 
Organisation Tube Lines Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
 
Description University of Barcelona 
Organisation University of Barcelona
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
Start Year 2006