Luleå University of Technology coordinates the Horizon 2020 research project Aeroworks focusing in the area of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and more specifically in Robotics. In total the project has ten European partners. One of them, the power company Skellefteå kraft, is also participating as the end user, providing some of the realistic scenario requirements behind the Aeroworks concept.
– Imagine a power line that needs to be inspected or repaired. It might be torn or filled with ice, explains George Nikolakopoulos, Project Coordinator and Associate Professor in Control Engineering.
– Normally, the power company would have to send a helicopter to do the inspection or the maintenance, a task that is very expensive and time consuming. But instead, they could use a fleet of cooperative flying robots to perform the same task in same detail, in less cost, in shorter time and more efficiently.
Aerial collaborative workers
Today, most of the flying helicopters for aerial inspection or photography are operated remotely by humans. The main novelty and concept in the Aeroworks project is the introduction of the aerial collaborative worker idea. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can fly, cooperate and perform specific tasks in a non-guided and autonomous manner without any human involvement except from the high level scenario or mission definition.
Another important difference is that robots can collaborate.
– We can program them to work together. The flying robots will have manipulators that can actually do maintenance, interact with the surrounding environment and work together.
The project has in total received 5.6 million Euros from the EU Horizon 2020. The funding for Luleå University of Technology is one million Euros and the project will run for three years, starting in January 2015.