Queensland researcher develops robot to detect structural faults in buildings

Queensland researcher develops robot to detect structural faults in buildings

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A Queensland researcher developing a robotic system to detect structural faults in buildings will have the potential to be the first gold standard inspection system in Australia. The project has received an innovation grant from the Government as part of the Advance Queensland initiative.

Member for Mackay, Julieanne Gilbert, says Dr Adnan Trakic, from The University of Queensland’s School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, will receive a $300,000 mid-career Industry Research Fellowship for the project with Whitsunday Moorings and Marine Construction.

“The export potential for this technology is huge,” she says.

This is a local company that’s using cutting-edge robotics to make people safer and fix structural problems earlier.

“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to supporting companies in Mackay and the Whitsundays to scale-up and create more jobs. That’s exactly what this grant is for.”

Innovation Minister Kate Jones says the $7.2 million Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships will support 30 researchers, working in collaboration on projects that will have a direct impact on Queensland.

“Through our Industry Research Fellowships we’re making sure that we’re keeping the state’s best and brightest researchers in Queensland and also attracting talented researchers from interstate and overseas.

“Dr Trakic’s project has the potential to put Queensland at the global forefront in microwave-based AI research and development, which is likely to attract significant interest and resources from industry giants right around the world.”

Dr Trakic says the funding will enable him to develop a robotically-assisted inspection technology that would penetrate structures with microwave signals. This inspection technology will deliver 50-times more accurate and 300-times faster detection of deep-interior structural defects in Queensland tunnels, buildings, roads, bridges, mining infrastructure and sea facilities.

“This technology, which combines microwave systems with cutting-edge robotic technology and artificial intelligence algorithms, has great potential because it will be the first gold standard structural inspection system for both terrestrial and underwater applications,” explains Dr Trakic.

Not only will an automated and robotic scanning system deliver better results, it will also be more cost-effective and circumvent the tedious and inaccurate manual inspection.

“The applications are almost endless, and this technology will be able to be used to detect rust and cracks in concrete in roads, buildings, tunnels, bridges, mining facilities and marine areas including pylons, ports and vessels.

“Queensland has a harsh environment, and factors such as sea salt and variations in humidity, temperature and wind, particularly during storms and cyclones, can lead to serious degradations in civil and marine infrastructure over time, thereby necessitating a robust, efficient and accurate automated inspections system, which is what this project aims to deliver.”

Whitsunday Moorings and Marine Construction Managing Director Darren Foster says Dr Trakic’s research has great potential.

“After undertaking the feasibility study with Dr Trakic it became apparent that this technology has the capability of being a step change in the testing of non-ferrous materials,” Mr Foster says.

We are looking to deploy the new sensor technology across a range of industries and covering several different materials over the next few years.

“Dr Trakic has brought a wealth of information and background knowledge to help us build new sensors based on millimetre wave technology and without this funding we may not have been able to undertake the project at this time.”

The fellowships are part of the $650 million whole-of-government Advance Queensland initiative to foster innovation and build a more diversified Queensland economy, creating jobs now and for the future.


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