An innovative underground radar technology developed at Louisiana Tech University is helping the City of Slidell in south Louisiana to identify and document underground infrastructure damage that had gone undetected in the months and years following Hurricane Katrina.

The radar system inspected buried pipelines, tunnels, and culverts to detect fractures, quantify corrosion, and find voids in the surrounding soil often caused by storm-water leaks and flooding.

Developed at Louisiana Tech’s Trenchless Technology Center, the technology incorporates simulation, electronics, robotics, signal processing, and three-dimensional renderings in a package that can be mounted on existing pipe-inspection robots.

The radar system emits ultra-short electromagnetic pulses from inside of a sewer pipe and captures the signals "back-scattered" from the pipe to determine the condition of various layers hidden behind the wall, which cannot be seen with visual tools such as a camera. The radar is integrated into a robot that can crawl through a pipe and relay the data back to the operator in real time.

Compromised infrastructure was able to be seen using the UWB technology and, most importantly, be proven.

As a result of the work of the Louisiana Tech research team, and consultations with other engineering firms, the City of Slidell was able to secure $75 million in funding from FEMA to begin the underground utility restoration process.


Also: Learn about NASA's FINDER radar device.