Qvision2

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Civil Engineering

Abstract

Qvision2 is a continuation of the InnovateUK funded Qvision project which investigated the feasibility of commercialising microgravity QT devices in the utility market sector when integrated with the OXEMS system. Qvision2 is a collaboration between OXEMS and the University of Birmingham (UoB) to establish the Quantum Technology (QT) gravty sensor market combined with OXEMS integrated solution to support asset owners with the management of their assets focusing both on location and condition. Buried infrastructure, by their nature, is challenging to maintain and is often forgotten, following the approach of 'out of sight, out of mind'. Many geophysical technologies exist to detect buried assets, but these all have limitations, especially at greater depths (>3m). Previous research (e.g. SIGMA) has demonstrated the potential of QT gravity sensors for subsurface investigations. However, inversion of gravity data has always been challenging as the solutions are non-singular, i.e. a meadured gravitational field can be the result of small features close to the surface or a large feature further away. Qvision2 will use numerical modelling to address the inversion problem combined with machine learning. Moreover, the results will be integrated into OXEMS' platform pulling together different data feeds thereby providing a significantly richer set of information to asset owners.
Qvision2 will cover the potential impact on the UK economy of manufacturing British designed QT gravitational sensors for deployment alongside OXEMS integrated solution in the global market. This will be achieved by undertaking market and commercial testing with potential UK clients and an assessment of the relative competitive strengths of the proposed new integrated solution.

Planned Impact

The beneficiaries from this research are diverse and include:
1.OXEMS' clients (e.g. asset owners)
2.civil engineers who can use the underground space more sustainably in their infrastructure designs and use minimal dig techniques as the location of the buried assets are known more precisely
3.UK-based and international academics.
4.the general public who will benefit from a reduction in streetworks due to the use of trenchless technologies and fewer 'dry' holes, which are dug in the wrong place without locating the buried asset
5.the environment as more infrastructure such as parking and shops can be moved underground freeing up surface space for an increase in green infrastructure
The inability of asset management companies to rapidly locate buried assets and evaluate their condition without the need for excavation has a negative impact on the global economy in the order of several billion US dollars annually. This is caused by both a lack of data on the assets actually buried and an inability to physically locate them. The OXEMS integrated system addresses both these issues by using physical tags buried with the assets when they are exposed and automatically linking them with data in any format to ensure maximum information about the assets and enabling absolute physical location. Its deployment is however limited to the rate at which assets are exposed, currently approximately 1% per annum. This is impacting takeup of the OXEMS system and highlights a need to find an underground asset management solution for clients which can be rapidly rolled out. Current solutions are varied, often complex, and do not address the complete challenge of underground asset management. Qvision2 aims to continue investigating the potential for microgravity QT devices but to broaden the future market focus from utilities to all other markets that have a need to survey underground structures, such as rail networks (e.g. HS2), highways infrastructure (including enhanced Building Information Modelling 'BIM'), mining, archaeology and construction projects. Qvision2 will explore how the layered data and ROI models should be adapted for this broader market, as well as understanding the route to achieve this commercialisation (roadmap)
Qvision2 will take an integrated system to market via OXEMS' existing channels (direct and via commercial partners). The total market (including software and services) is expected to be several billions of dollars. In addition, the end-users are being engaged early on in the QT sensor development process opening a channel of communication between the physics researchers and the end-users. Furthermore, the practitioners' clients will be able to see the potential of the new QT sensors based on the developed forward models thereby ensuring a demand for these sensors once they become market ready and also providing confidence in their capabilities. The focus of the QT roadmap for civil engineering has, to date, been on geophysical surveying for a range or different targets including buried utilities. Qvision2 will provide an alternative route to market for the QT gravity sensors. The engineering driven research takes into account user needs, promoting industrial adoption and generating social and economic impact, e.g. by reducing urban traffic congestion with better underground intelligence. The essential step is to build sufficient commercial confidence in a "spooky" and potentially disruptive quantum technology to unlock further industrial investment.
The academics will benefit by being involved in such a prestigious, multi-disciplinary project which has the potential to make a tangible difference in the future. It further addresses an issue that the public is familiar with in respect to streetworks & associated traffic delays. This will help to further raise their profiles in the academic community & through the industrial collaboration, connections will be developed which will be beneficial for future projects.

Publications

10 25 50
publication icon
Haji T (2019) Development of an infinite element boundary to model gravity for subsurface civil engineering applications in International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics

 
Description A smart and advanced numerical tool has been developed to locate buried assets and assess ground condition. This was done by back-calculating ground density using AI.
Exploitation Route OXEMS Ltd will be using our models to assist utility companies to locate their assets and inspect their conditions.
Sectors Construction

 
Description The developed model will be used by OXEMS Ltd to assist them locating underground assets
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Construction
Impact Types Economic

 
Description UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensing and Timing
Amount £23,949,167 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/T001046/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2019 
End 11/2024
 
Title QVision2 locating model 
Description This computational model can capture changes in the condition of ground and buried utilities using an AI-assisted inversion model. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The model will be used by OXEMS (the industrial partner of the project) in combination with their tagging system to assist utility companies to locate their buried assets. 
 
Description An invited lecture at the Durham University, UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Over 30 academic staffs, researchers, and PhD students attended a lecture that I delivered on the subject of the research at Durham University. There was a great interest in the research and the lecture created questions and answers. In addition, after the lecture, in a meeting with a member of academic staffs from Durham, we identified a number of mutual interests in research and are currently planning to follow them up in form of research proposals and research articles.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description CIRIA Site Investigation Presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A talk was given on 18th June 2019 to a group of geoscience professional and civil engineering construction industry as well as asset owners on innovative non-intrusive site investigation techniques. The potential of quantum technology gravity sensors was demonstrated alongside showing the limitations of existing methods.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited lecture - Midland Geotechnical Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Over 40 professional practitioners and postgraduate researchers attended this lecture at the University of Birmingham where monthly Midland Geotechnical Society lectures take place. There was a great interest in the subject and the lecture was followed by discussions and Q/A. One of the attendees from a well established construction industry have showed interest to take the subject forward to his colleagues for potential future collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.midlandgeotechnicalsociety.org.uk/meetings.shtml
 
Description Invited lecture by MIDAS software company 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Over 50 geotechnical engineering professionals and postgraduate students attended this seminar which was organised by MIDAS software in Birmingham, Crowne Plaza Hotel on 6th March 2019. I delivered a lecture on the use finite element method and AI-assisted numerical inversion techniques in geotechnical engineering problems. There was a buzzing environment after the lecture and the subject sparked many questions particularly from those professionals who were dealing with locating and condition assessment of buried utilities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://en.midasuser.com/mail/2019/0207_gtsnx/edm.html
 
Description Keynote at EAGE Near Surface Geophysics conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A keynote was presented as part of the Opening Session of the EAGE Near Surface Geophysics conference. The keynote was entitled "Better location and condition assessment of critical infrastructure: Exploiting existing technologies and Quantum Technology sensors" It used QT-PRI, GRAM, REVEAL as examples of where quantum technology sensors could be used in the future to provide a better understanding of the subsurface.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://eage.eventsair.com/near-surface-geoscience-2019/
 
Description Presentation at the University of Birmingham Digital Innovation Boot Camp 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Delivering a talk and an interactive workshop on the engineering applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://blog.bham.ac.uk/digital-bootcamp/
 
Description QT Hub Showcase 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Exhibition Stall at the QT Hub National Programme Showcase event in London to present the findings from the research; This spanned the outcome of several QT research projects highlighting our progress and close collaboration with industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description SUBSURFACE ASSET MANAGEMENT & SURVEYING 2019 Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A technical presentation was given as part of the SUBSURFACE ASSET MANAGEMENT & SURVEYING 2019 conference in Kuala Lumpur. The audience consisted mainly of survey practitioners and politicians as well as some academics. The title of the presentation was "Detecting buried features and density variations using innovative gravity sensors" Approximately 100 practitioners attended the two day event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019