UQ Researcher develops robot to detect structural faults in buildings

1 Nov 2018

A UQ researcher that’s developing a robotic system to detect structural faults in buildings has today received an innovation grant from the Palaszczuk Government.

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

“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 said the $7.2 million Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships announced today would support 30 researchers, working in collaboration with a Queensland company on projects that will have an impact on Queensland.

“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 said the funding would enable him to develop a robotically-assisted inspection technology that would penetrate structures with microwave signals to be able to 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,” Dr Trakic said.

“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 said Dr Trakic’s research had 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 said.

“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.

Dr Trakic is one of 11 EAIT researchers to recieve frunding from the Queensland Industry Research Fellowships.

Other recipients include:

  • Dr Christopher Leondari - Sustainable enhancment of coal seam gas production in Queensland - $300,000
  • Dr Fangfang Tang - The development of critical components for compact head MRI scanners - $180,000
  • Dr Feifei Bai - High-precision condition monitoring of critical equipment in modern distribution networks - $180,000
  • Dr Hangil Park - Sensor development to push boundaris in fine coal recovery - $180,000
  • Dr Majid Ejternaei - Better tailing dewatering technology for Queensland coal industry - $180,000
  • Dr Miaoquiang Lyu - Low-cost and printable thin-film batteries for self-powered electronic devices - $180,000
  • Dr Pradeep Shukla - A technology of PFAS remediation for decontaminating surface and ground water - $300,000
  • Dr Tim Huelsen - Protein-rich feed production from agri-industrial wastewaters by phototrophic bacteria - $180,000
  • Dr Tuan Nguyen - Developing mineral-gel technology for sustainable and economical bauxite residue management - $180,000
  • Dr Yifan Wang - Low-cost compact autonomous satellite terminal for ubiquitous broadband communication - $300,000