Special Issue "Aerial Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance"

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417). This special issue belongs to the section "Robotics and Automation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 December 2021) | Viewed by 16585

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Alejandro Suarez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
GRVC Robotics Labs, University of Seville, Caminos de los Descubrimientos s/n, 41092 Seville, Spain
Interests: robotics; aerial manipulation; lightweight and compliant manipulators
Dr. Jonathan Cacace
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Naples Federico II, 80138 Napoli NA, Italy
Interests: robotics
Dr. Matko Orsag
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
LARICS Lab Robot & Intelligent Control System, University of Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Interests: aerial manipulation; unmanned aerial vehicles; control; robotics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Aerial robotics has been consolidated in the last decade as a research topic of interest in a wide variety of areas such as modeling and control, perception and planning, platform design, or aerial manipulation, being an effective technological solution for diverse applications such as inspection and maintenance, search and rescue, transportation and delivery, monitoring and patrolling, or 3D mapping.

The maturity level reached in this field has led to the rise of a number of applications of aerial robots, with the focus on high altitude and difficult access scenarios that cannot be reached easily by human operators. The time, risk, and cost associated with conventional solutions involving the deployment of heavy vehicles and infrastructures motivates the development of aerial robots capable of quickly reaching these workspaces and performing visual or contact inspection operations.

This Special Issue is devoted to aerial robotics for inspection and maintenance, a current trend that relies on recent research results to solve typical problems faced by human operators in their work in different industrial scenarios like power lines, chemical plants, or civil infrastructures. Authors are invited to submit original works describing:

  • Intended applications;
  • Technological challenges;
  • Theoretical fundamentals;
  • Methods and techniques;
  • Developed prototypes;
  • Experimental results.

The papers may describe the application of aerial robots to particular inspection and maintenance tasks, the development of new prototypes and concept designs, or the experimental evaluation of the system performance in terms of usual metrics (operation time, positioning accuracy, reliability). The implementation and validation of perception, control, and planning methods is of special interest to demonstrate the functionalities and capabilities of aerial robots, contributing to increasing the level of automation in the realization of these tasks.

This Special Issue aims to reduce the gap between research results and practical application of a technology that is expected to become commonplace in future inspection and maintenance operations.

Dr. Alejandro Suarez
Dr. Jonathan Cacace
Dr. Matko Orsag
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Applied Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • aerial robotics
  • inspection and maintenance
  • aerial manipulation
  • multirotor control

Published Papers (12 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Editorial

Jump to: Research

Editorial
Aerial Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance: Special Issue Editorial
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(7), 3583; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12073583 - 01 Apr 2022
Viewed by 433
Abstract
The significant advances in last decade in the research and technology of multi-rotor design, modeling and control, supported by the increasing variety of commercially available platforms, components and manufacturers, have facilitated a rise in the novel applications of aerial robots, capable of not [...] Read more.
The significant advances in last decade in the research and technology of multi-rotor design, modeling and control, supported by the increasing variety of commercially available platforms, components and manufacturers, have facilitated a rise in the novel applications of aerial robots, capable of not only perceiving, but also interacting with the environment, allowing the realization of diverse operations and tasks in areas and workspaces that are difficult to access by human operators or ground vehicles [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aerial Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Article
Release of Sterile Mosquitoes with Drones in Urban and Rural Environments under the European Drone Regulation
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(3), 1250; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12031250 - 25 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 731
Abstract
In recent years, several countries have developed the use of sterile insect techniques (SIT) to fight against mosquitoes that transmit diseases. From a technical and economic point of view, the use of drones in the aerial release of sterile mosquitoes leads to important [...] Read more.
In recent years, several countries have developed the use of sterile insect techniques (SIT) to fight against mosquitoes that transmit diseases. From a technical and economic point of view, the use of drones in the aerial release of sterile mosquitoes leads to important improvements in aerial coverage and savings in operational costs due to the requirement of fewer release sites and field staff. However, these operations are under the European drone regulation, one of the most advanced in the world. The main contribution and novelty of this paper with respect to previous work is the analysis of the SIT application with drones under the European risk-based regulation in two scenarios: urban and rural areas. The specific operations risk assessment (SORA) methodology has been applied to assess the risk of drone operations in these scenarios. The paper presents the operational requirements for aerial release of mosquitoes with drones along with the regulatory considerations that must be applied. Finally, an overview of the conditions in operation that could relax risks and mitigation measures is also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aerial Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Aerial Tele-Manipulation with Passive Tool via Parallel Position/Force Control
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(19), 8955; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11198955 - 26 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4147
Abstract
This paper addresses the problem of unilateral contact interaction by an under-actuated quadrotor UAV equipped with a passive tool in a bilateral teleoperation scheme. To solve the challenging control problem of force regulation in contact interaction while maintaining flight stability and keeping the [...] Read more.
This paper addresses the problem of unilateral contact interaction by an under-actuated quadrotor UAV equipped with a passive tool in a bilateral teleoperation scheme. To solve the challenging control problem of force regulation in contact interaction while maintaining flight stability and keeping the contact, we use a parallel position/force control method, commensurate to the system dynamics and constraints in which using the compliant structure of the end-effector the rotational degrees of freedom are also utilized to attain a broader range of feasible forces. In a bilateral teleoperation framework, the proposed control method regulates the aerial manipulator position in free flight and the applied force in contact interaction. On the master side, the human operator is provided with force haptic feedback to enhance his/her situational awareness. The validity of the theory and efficacy of the solution are shown by experimental results. This control architecture, integrated with a suitable perception/localization pipeline, could be used to perform outdoor aerial teleoperation tasks in hazardous and/or remote sites of interest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aerial Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Drone-Based Vibration Monitoring and Assessment of Structures
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(18), 8560; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11188560 - 15 Sep 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 861
Abstract
This paper presents a novel method of procuring and processing data for the assessment of civil structures via vibration monitoring. This includes the development of a custom sensor package designed to minimize the size/weight while being fully self-sufficient (i.e., not relying on external [...] Read more.
This paper presents a novel method of procuring and processing data for the assessment of civil structures via vibration monitoring. This includes the development of a custom sensor package designed to minimize the size/weight while being fully self-sufficient (i.e., not relying on external power). The developed package is delivered to the structure utilizing a customized Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), otherwise known as a drone. The sensor package features an electropermanent magnet for securing it to the civil structure while a second magnet is used to secure the package to the drone during flight. The novel B-Spline Impulse Response Function (BIRF) technique was utilized to extract the Dynamic Signature Response (DSR) from the data collected by the sensor package. Experimental results are presented to validate this method and show the feasibility of deploying the sensor package on structures and collecting data valuable for Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) data processing. The advantages and limitations of the proposed techniques are discussed, and recommendations for further developments are made. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aerial Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Aerial Robotic Solution for Detailed Inspection of Viaducts
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(18), 8404; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11188404 - 10 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 595
Abstract
The inspection of public infrastructure, such as viaducts and bridges, is crucial for their proper maintenance given the heavy use of many of them. Current inspection techniques are very costly and manual, requiring highly qualified personnel and involving many risks. This article presents [...] Read more.
The inspection of public infrastructure, such as viaducts and bridges, is crucial for their proper maintenance given the heavy use of many of them. Current inspection techniques are very costly and manual, requiring highly qualified personnel and involving many risks. This article presents a novel solution for the detailed inspection of viaducts using aerial robotic platforms. The system provides a highly automated visual inspection platform that does not rely on GPS and could even fly underneath the infrastructure. Unlike commercially available solutions, our system automatically references the inspection to a global coordinate system usable throughout the lifespan of the infrastructure. In addition, the system includes another aerial platform with a robotic arm to make contact inspections of detected defects, thus providing information that cannot be obtained only with images. Both aerial robotic platforms feature flexibility in the choice of camera or contact measurement sensors as the situation requires. The system was validated by performing inspection flights on real viaducts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aerial Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Towards Autonomous Bridge Inspection: Sensor Mounting Using Aerial Manipulators
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(18), 8279; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11188279 - 07 Sep 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 785
Abstract
Periodic bridge inspections are required every several years to determine the state of a bridge. Most commonly, the inspection is performed using specialized trucks allowing human inspectors to review the conditions underneath the bridge, which requires a road closure. The aim of this [...] Read more.
Periodic bridge inspections are required every several years to determine the state of a bridge. Most commonly, the inspection is performed using specialized trucks allowing human inspectors to review the conditions underneath the bridge, which requires a road closure. The aim of this paper was to use aerial manipulators to mount sensors on the bridge to collect the necessary data, thus eliminating the need for the road closure. To do so, a two-step approach is proposed: an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with a pressurized canister sprays the first glue component onto the target area; afterward, the aerial manipulator detects the precise location of the sprayed area, and mounts the required sensor coated with the second glue component. The visual detection is based on an Red Green Blue - Depth (RGB-D) sensor and provides the target position and orientation. A trajectory is then planned based on the detected contact point, and it is executed through the adaptive impedance control capable of achieving and maintaining a desired force reference. Such an approach allows for the two glue components to form a solid bond. The described pipeline is validated in a simulation environment while the visual detection is tested in an experimental environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aerial Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Installation of Clip-Type Bird Flight Diverters on High-Voltage Power Lines with Aerial Manipulation Robot: Prototype and Testbed Experimentation
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(16), 7427; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11167427 - 12 Aug 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 771
Abstract
This work presents the application of an aerial manipulation robot for the semi-autonomous installation of clip-type bird flight diverters on overhead power line cables. A custom-made prototype is designed, developed, and experimentally validated. The proposed solution aims to reduce the cost and risk [...] Read more.
This work presents the application of an aerial manipulation robot for the semi-autonomous installation of clip-type bird flight diverters on overhead power line cables. A custom-made prototype is designed, developed, and experimentally validated. The proposed solution aims to reduce the cost and risk of current procedures carried out by human operators deployed on suspended carts, lifts, or manned helicopters. The system consists of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with a custom-made tool. This tool allows the high force required for the diverter installation to be generated; however, it is isolated from the aerial robot through a passive joint. Thus, the aerial robot stability is not compromised during the installation. This paper thoroughly describes the designed prototype and the control system for semi-autonomous operation. Flight experiments conducted in an illustrative scenario validate the performance of the system; the tests were carried out in an indoor testbed using a power line cable mock-up. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aerial Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Safe Local Aerial Manipulation for the Installation of Devices on Power Lines: AERIAL-CORE First Year Results and Designs
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(13), 6220; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11136220 - 05 Jul 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1004
Abstract
The power grid is an essential infrastructure in any country, comprising thousands of kilometers of power lines that require periodic inspection and maintenance, carried out nowadays by human operators in risky conditions. To increase safety and reduce time and cost with respect to [...] Read more.
The power grid is an essential infrastructure in any country, comprising thousands of kilometers of power lines that require periodic inspection and maintenance, carried out nowadays by human operators in risky conditions. To increase safety and reduce time and cost with respect to conventional solutions involving manned helicopters and heavy vehicles, the AERIAL-CORE project proposes the development of aerial robots capable of performing aerial manipulation operations to assist human operators in power lines inspection and maintenance, allowing the installation of devices, such as bird flight diverters or electrical spacers, and the fast delivery and retrieval of tools. This manuscript describes the goals and functionalities to be developed for safe local aerial manipulation, presenting the preliminary designs and experimental results obtained in the first year of the project. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aerial Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Mathematical Considerations for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Navigation in the Magnetic Field of Two Parallel Transmission Lines
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(8), 3323; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11083323 - 07 Apr 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 807
Abstract
This publication deals with the navigation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) moving in the magnetic field of two long, straight, parallel conductors, which is of high interest for several new technical applications. How the position and orientation of the UAV can be calculated [...] Read more.
This publication deals with the navigation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) moving in the magnetic field of two long, straight, parallel conductors, which is of high interest for several new technical applications. How the position and orientation of the UAV can be calculated using a minimal number of only three three-axis magnetometers are discussed. It is shown that the angles can be determined without the knowledge of the conductor currents and the magnetic field equations, but only by combining the sensor measurements with the rotation matrix and exploiting a characteristic property of the magnetic field. Furthermore, different strategies were investigated to determine the respective sensor positions. An analytical solution was derived from the nonlinear magnetic field equations, which promises a low computational time. It is shown that for a given sensor, several solutions exist, from which the correct one has to be selected. Therefore, a specific detection method is introduced. Once the solution is known, the UAV location can be determined. Finally, the overall algorithm was tested by simulations far from and near the conductors with superimposed typical magnetic noise. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aerial Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Development of Add-On Planar Translational Driving System for Aerial Manipulation with Multirotor Platform
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(4), 1462; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11041462 - 05 Feb 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1437
Abstract
We propose an add-on planar translational driving system (ATD) which can be equipped on a multirotor platform for aerial manipulation. The device is lightweight and consists of three ducted fans controlled via an on-board CPU. It uses a simple control method and enables [...] Read more.
We propose an add-on planar translational driving system (ATD) which can be equipped on a multirotor platform for aerial manipulation. The device is lightweight and consists of three ducted fans controlled via an on-board CPU. It uses a simple control method and enables a multirotor to perform positioning and generate force in two dimensions while keeping the airframe horizontal. By translating the multirotor without changing attitude, it can more smoothly and easily perform many types of aerial manipulation tasks with higher positioning accuracy. In this paper, we mainly show the design, modeling, and control of the ATD. Several preliminary experiments were performed to verify the positioning accuracy and effectiveness of the system. In addition, we successfully performed the push and pull task using a rigid arm. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aerial Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Cartesian Aerial Manipulator with Compliant Arm
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(3), 1001; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11031001 - 22 Jan 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2428
Abstract
This paper presents an aerial manipulation robot consisting of a hexa-rotor equipped with a 2-DOF (degree of freedom) Cartesian base (XY–axes) that supports a 1-DOF compliant joint arm that integrates a gripper and an elastic linear force sensor. The proposed kinematic configuration improves [...] Read more.
This paper presents an aerial manipulation robot consisting of a hexa-rotor equipped with a 2-DOF (degree of freedom) Cartesian base (XY–axes) that supports a 1-DOF compliant joint arm that integrates a gripper and an elastic linear force sensor. The proposed kinematic configuration improves the positioning accuracy of the end effector with respect to robotic arms with revolute joints, where each coordinate of the Cartesian position depends on all the joint angles. The Cartesian base reduces the inertia of the manipulator and the energy consumption since it does not need to lift its own weight. Consequently, the required torque is lower and, thus, the weight of the actuators. The linear and angular deflection sensors of the arm allow the estimation, monitoring and control of the interaction wrenches exerted in two axes (XZ) at the end effector. The kinematic and dynamic models are derived and compared with respect to a revolute-joint arm, proposing a force-position control scheme for the aerial robot. A battery counterweight mechanism is also incorporated in the X–axis linear guide to partially compensate for the motion of the manipulator. Experimental results indoors and outdoors show the performance of the robot, including object grasping and retrieval, contact force control, and force monitoring in grabbing situations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aerial Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Aerial Physical Interaction in Grabbing Conditions with Lightweight and Compliant Dual Arms
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(24), 8927; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10248927 - 14 Dec 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 970
Abstract
This paper considers the problem of performing bimanual aerial manipulation tasks in grabbing conditions, with one of the arms grabbed to a fixed point (grabbing arm) while the other conducts the task (operation arm). The goal was to evaluate the positioning accuracy of [...] Read more.
This paper considers the problem of performing bimanual aerial manipulation tasks in grabbing conditions, with one of the arms grabbed to a fixed point (grabbing arm) while the other conducts the task (operation arm). The goal was to evaluate the positioning accuracy of the aerial platform and the end effector when the grabbing arm is used as position sensor, as well as to analyze the behavior of the robot during the aerial physical interaction on flight. The paper proposed a control scheme that exploits the information provided by the joint sensors of the grabbing arm for estimating the relative position of the aerial platform w.r.t. (with respect to) the grabbing point. A deflection-based Cartesian impedance control was designed for the compliant arm, allowing the generation of forces that help the aerial platform to maintain the reference position when it is disturbed due to external forces. The proposed methods were validated in an indoor testbed with a lightweight and compliant dual arm aerial manipulation robot. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aerial Robotics for Inspection and Maintenance)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop