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Terrestrial drones applied to three-dimensional modelling and inspection of critical and hard-to-reach infrastructures


Using drones equipped with laser sensors, obstacle detectors and remote control systems makes it possible to safely and reliably obtain three-dimensional models of critical scenarios, with critical scenarios being understood as all those scenarios in which a person would be at risk while carrying out the work.

These types of scenarios range from narrow and cramped caves that are difficult to access to complex industrial scenarios, such as electrical substations, where there is a risk of electric shocks, boiler rooms, buildings with structural problems etc.

Despite being critical places, their maintenance and inspection is a key aspect in the field of preventive control of breakdowns and deformations, so obtaining a three-dimensional model of these places is essential. In this sense, increasingly sophisticated terrestrial drones can integrate terrestrial laser scanners to capture the environment, as well as obstacle detectors and different communication systems, so that they can move autonomously or be remotely controlled.

So far, the integration of terrestrial drones and laser scanners has been investigated using two different working methodologies, depending on the degree of precision and detail required and depending on the dimensions of the space in which they are working.

Finally, research is being carried out on how to combine the three-dimensional models obtained by terrestrial drones with data from aerial drones equipped with photographic cameras or thermographic cameras. Combining both models is essential to obtain full coverage of the study scene and to be able to detect anomalies anywhere. This line of action is being introduced to monitor electrical substations and solar photovoltaic plants, as in both cases it is possible to detect areas with abnormal heating that indicate an operation that needs to be checked.