Inspecting ships: New project launched in the Smart Robotics Lab

NEWS, Innovation, Work, Artificial Intelligence |

In mid-October 2023, partners for the EU-funded research project AUTOASSESS (Autonomous aerial inspection of GNSS-denied and confined critical infrastructures), which received nine million euros in funding, gathered for their kickoff in Copenhagen. Prof. Stefan Leutenegger and his Smart Robotics Lab were there representing the Technical University of Munich (TUM) with a budget of approximately 1.1 million euros.

Under the consortium leadership of the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), the EU project AUTOASSESS (with a total of 12 partners) has now been launched. The project aims to simplify the inspection of the interiors of tankers and cargo ships. Drones will be dispatched to autonomously inspect interior walls. 'The mobile flying robots will be equipped, among other things, with ultrasonic sensors, enabling them to detect cracks in contact with the wall,' says Prof. Stefan Leutenegger, who is involved in the research with the Smart Robotics Lab at TUM. 'It will be crucial for drones to autonomously navigate safely within a ship's interior, especially in poor wireless connectivity.' Ideally, after four years, an application will be developed that makes it easier and safer to inspect ship interiors. Such checks could potentially be conducted at sea intermittently, using drones, thereby reducing CO2 emissions and costs as it eliminates the need to visit specific ports solely for inspection.

Smart Robotics Lab: Moved from Imperial College London to TUM

The Smart Robotics Lab is the cornerstone of Professor Leutenegger's research in machine learning for robotics. Founded in 2018 at Imperial College London in England and relocated to TUM in Garching since early 2021, it currently houses eight researchers engaged in various projects. It has a particular focus on spatial AI and machine learning in the context of mobile robots. Presently, the team is involved in the research project 'SPAICR,' focusing on construction robotics, and the 'DigiForest' project coordinated by TUM, aimed at automating forest mapping using intelligent drones. Apart from publicly funded projects, the lab is developing algorithms for mobile LiDAR scanning for Leica Geosystems to create maps, and is also collaborating with Google, Intel, and Apple.

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