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Inspection Robots Keep Buildings Safe

Buildings, industrial plants, and bridges have to bear heavy loads and are exposed to wind and weather. Many buildings in Germany were built in the postwar years and now show damage due to aging. To inspect their condition and prevent hazards to people, much effort still has to be devoted to buildings that are difficult to access.

The answer: micro-aircraft for building inspections. Octocopters, equipped with eight rotors, examine the facade for damage such as cracks, defective joints, or chipped and crumbling concrete. Onboard is a high-resolution digital camera that takes detailed images of each part of the building. In addition, the material tester is equipped with sensors that adjust for wind gusts, maintaining stable attitudes and avoiding collisions with the building. When equipped with a thermal imaging camera, it can check things such as building insulation. A 15-minute flight can result in up to 1,200 photos.

Visit www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2014/July/Fast_building_inspection.html.