High-resolution imagery from surfboard inspects water flow
Marrying automated inspection technology to a surfboard might sound a little like an undergraduate engineering project.
Yet such a solution is helping to analyse utility Scottish Water’s Talla Aqueduct in Edinburgh, which is vital to the supply of the city’s drinking water.
Called the Platypus, the device is the work of Australian-based robotics firm Abyss Solutions, that combines remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) with data analytics.
Specially created for Scottish Water and working with water quality specialists Panton McLeod, the Platypus has been designed to detect and analyse cracks and other faults in this aqueduct and potentially other assets owned by Scottish Water.
The Talla Aqueduct carries water from two reservoirs to Edinburgh, operating since 1905. For most of its 45km length, it runs as a tunnel, split by several bridges and siphons. It is capable of taking up to 127 megalitres of water in a day.
Six metres below ground in places, in the past sections would have to be fully drained for inspection, a logistical challenge while supplying Edinburgh’s water. Inspections were difficult and potentially dangerous, needing a team of up to 200 people and hundreds of hours.
Today, with the Platypus, Scottish Water can inspect with the aqueduct remaining fully operational.
How it all works
High-resolution imagery can now be gathered from above and below the water inside the aqueduct. The surfboard acts as the platform (autonomous surface vehicle, or ASV) to support this specialist recording equipment.
High definition cameras and lighting were fitted along with sensors to steer the Platypus along a pre-programmed alignment while moving it around obstacles.