London South Bank Innovation Centre (LSBIC)

Developing robotics for a safer world

At LSBIC we specialise in research and innovation to develop mobile service robots that can play a key role in helping industry carry out inspection, maintenance and repair of critical assets. We are experts in designing robotics for extreme and hazardous environments that enable the job to be carried more safely. We apply our expertise across a number of industry sectors including offshore wind energy, oil & gas, construction & petrochemical storage. We aim to create smart, agile robots that can operate in demanding environments.

Established in July 2015, the London South Bank Innovation Centre (LSBIC) specialises in developing mobile robots that provide access to very large, vertical, safety-critical structures to deploy a range of non-destructive testing (NDT) techniques.

LSBIC collaborates with TWI Ltd, the National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC) and London South Bank University (LSBU). The Centre performs research and development of Automated NDT in the TRL1-3 region to underpin the work of TWI to its 700 industrial members and identify their future needs.

Other objectives include the development of intelligent automated NDT to improve the quality and probability of defect detection and to develop autonomous robot deployment systems that can perform NDT with minimum intervention by human operators.

In addition further fundamental research in robotics and automation is being performed by PhD students funded by NSIRC, the Lloyds Register Foundation and London South Bank University.

Investigated topics

  • Robotics for non-destructive testing (NDT) and inspection
  • Assistive and wearable robots for paraplegia and manual NDT
  • Adaptive/intelligent computing and control for autonomous robots
  • Screw-theory based methods for robotics

Current projects

RiserSure

RiserSure is a robotic inspection system developed for in-situ inspection of flexible risers which are widely used in oil & gas production. Due to their complex internal structure only high power radiography is capable of scanning through the entire riser to reveal internal damage hidden within the multiple steel layers.

LSBIC has developed a robotic platform that can work in air, the splash zone and subsea to deploy a digital radiography system. The engineering and control systems design of the RiserSure system provides the capability to scan all around the riser in a very precise manner to enable a very detailed digital radiographic image of the inside of the riser. The robotic platform also includes a stabilising system to grip the riser during inspection to isolate any external disturbances while scanning. The core functionality of the system developed was proven during sea trials in Scotland. This proved the inspection and deployment capabilities.

Nautilus

The Nautilus project will develop a NDT inspection robot system able to perform in-service inspection of Aboveground Storage Tanks (ASTs) and will aim to meet ATEX regulations. This robot is expected to move around a tank using tracks and use an ultrasound probe to make measurements of floor thinning as the robot moves around.  A radio frequency (RF) localisation system for this robot is currently  been developed and will be implemented to provide absolute positioning of the robot while navigating as well for the post-processing location awareness that will be recorded and retrieved afterward.

The navigation and location awareness of a robot inside an oil tank is proven to be very challenging as poor visibility and with limited view from outside the tank is unavoidable. With 433 MHz RF solution, this project will use the Time of Flight (TOF) with trilateration method as basis for determining absolute position (coordinate) of a robot inside an oil tank. Nevertheless, localisation using RF in oil based medium requires developing high speed signal processing device with state of the art noise filtering methods where this research project are embarking as no attempt has been made yet for this type of application.

This industrial based project is expected to provide low cost and more practical solution compared to existing in oil-tank localisation methods.

FSWBot

Pipelines constructed of carbon steel degrade due to the corrosive nature of the liquids they transport, such as crude oil, petroleum chemical and petrochemical raw materials. Corrosion and cracks can form over time leading to failure and leakage of the contents, resulting in severe economic losses and environmental pollution. To avoid any damage to the environment, inspection, evaluation, and repair activities are performed periodically. Internal cracks and areas of corrosion and metal loss are monitored by the use of intelligent inspection devices which carry special sensors. Sections of pipeline that are found to be likely to fail are reinforced using an externally applied bolt-on clamp which is both costly and has a number of drawbacks.

This project is aimed for the development of a radical new solution to internal corrosion and cracks that form inside pipelines. Meeting the objective will result in a much cheaper, safer repair process that will enable pipeline asset owners and their service providers to produce very high- quality welds in steel pipelines without shutting down and purging petroleum pipelines and without the use of divers and surface vessels. This is of enormous importance especially in respect to inaccessible pipelines and those which are installed in parallel groups where space around pipes is restricted.

The key objective of the project is to develop a prototype robotic platform with a payload consisting of a weld repair system, pipeline inspection system and on-board power generation system. Data obtained by prior high-resolution mapping by intelligent pig of flux leakage anomalies that are produced by metal loss and corrosion will be used to provide information for mission planning.

Robopack

RoboPack: The development of an advanced robotic manipulator for rapid inspection and packing of fresh produce

An increasing global population and a difficulty in attracting sufficient numbers of workers from with the current EU is a direct threat to affordable and secure food supply to the UK. In order to address this challenge, the agricultural and food manufacturing sectors are increasingly using technology to address the shortfall in labour availability. The suppliers and packers are the nexus between growers and retailers, which in the UK, deal with £13billion worth of fresh produce annually, 70% of which is sourced and imported by the supply and pack industry to meet consumer demand. Any perturbation in this flow of safe nutritious food will have severe consequences for human health and wellbeing.

Robotic manipulation is the "holy grail" for fresh produce packing e.g. fruits and vegetables, which tend to be delicate objects with irregular shapes. This sector is dominated by manual labour, because of the need for intricate human handling and inspection skills; this intervention is required for the selection of unblemished product that consumers expect and demand all year round. In such applications, a sense of touch in the end-effector (robot-gripper) is critical. Unfortunately, robotic manipulator systems do not yet possess this capability. Current state-of-the-art systems essentially act open-loop, without the ability to successfully grasp an object if the mechanical interaction between the end-effector and the grasped object is not well predicted; such is the case with the handling of fresh produce.

The consortium will develop Robo-Pack, an advanced robotic manipulator for the inspection and packing of fresh produce, initially targeting tomatoes. Robo-Pack builds upon proprietary tactile sensing and robot manipulation technology systems.

Radblad

Radblad is an Innovate UK funded project demonstrator for robotics and AI in extreme and challenging environments that targets the development of an in-situ inspection of wind turbine blades. As in the case of Winspector, Radblad also aims at developing an inspection system that can provide an automated and powerful inspection alternative to the current in-situ blade inspection methods available. The differentiation elements of Radblad, when compared with other systems, is in the use of radiographic based in-situ inspection, the automatic detection of defects using an artificial intelligent (AI) based software, and the use of a modular approach for the robotic system. As a result the expected advantages of this system are early detection of blade (internal) defects, in a quicker, safer and systematic way, while reducing the risk to human operators. The modularity of the system makes it an easier option to deploy and for onsite assembly, which is particularly relevant for off-shore use.

LSBIC had successfully won two projects: a feasibility study for concept demonstration and the demonstrator phase at full-scale development. In both phases LSBIC has acted as part of a consortium, being responsible in phase 1 for generating robotic system concept and building a scaled version prototype. In phase two, LSBIC is leading the design of the end-effector and providing advice to our Industrial partner, Fourth Engineering, for the design of the full scale system.

Winspector

Aiming at improving current available wind turbine blade (WTB) inspection methods, Winspector is a European Union’s Horizon 2020 funded project (700986) that focuses on the development of a robotic platform for advanced non-destructive testing (NDT) for in-situ blade defect detection. The main advantages of this system are:

  • Automated Inspection, resulting in a safer (no need for humans working at heights), and more consistent examination of WTB
  • Sub-surface defect detection, which won’t be detected by visual inspection, resulting in the potential critical defects to be detected at an early stage.

The system consists of a climber, a robotic arm, an end-effector and a Shearography system (the NDT unit). As part of a European consortium, which includes WRS Marine, TWI, IKH (previously Innora) and Simens Gamesa, LSBIC has been responsible for development of the end effector which carries the Shearography system and makes the link between the blade and the robotic arm, providing a stable platform for the Shearography inspection. The project ended on May 2019 after successfully completion of a number of field tests.

Key facilities

LSBIC is made up of a team of research staff and students who specialise in a variety of disciplines necessary to develop robotics. We have strengths in software development for embedded control of automated systems and image processing for vision systems. We also have expertise in hardware development, mechanical design and instrumentation. All our staff are experienced in test and validation of robotics in the lab and in the real world. Our research staff work across a number of interdisciplinary projects in collaboration with our valued partners.

Research staff

  • Dr. Gabriela Gallegos
  • Dr. Aman Kaur
  • Dr. Bingyin Ma
  • Dr. Hisham Nordin
  • Dr. Mahesh Dissanayake
  • Dr. Richard Anvo
  • Vitor Rosas

Postgraduate research students

  • Zhiyao Li
  • Nagu Sathappan
  • Rukshinda Wasif
  • Afnan Islam
  • Faris Nafiah
  • Integrity NDT (Turkey)
  • Technic Control (Poland)
  • Siemens Gamesa (Spain)
  • Mistras (Greece)
  • Forth Engineering UK
  • Lancaster University
  • Innvotek Ltd
  • Renewable Advice
  • Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult
  • Suncrop Ltd
  • Wootzano Ltd
  • Shadow Robot Company Ltd
  • ADAS
  • Impact Solutions Ltd
  • Monition Ltd
  • Sonomatic Ltd
  • Acroflight
  • FADA-CATEC (Spain)
  • Brunel University
  • TWI Ltd

Key publications

  • M. Dissanayake, D. Carswell, M. Corsar, T. Sattar, S. Lowe and T.-H. Gan, “Automated application of full matrix capture to access the structural integrity of mooring chains,” IEEE Access, vol. 06, pp. 75560 - 75571, 2018
  • M. Kimball, Amit, A. Gmerek, P. Collins, A. Wheateley, K. Shah, J. Liu, M. Dissanayake, J. Caroll, A. Plastropoulos, P. Karfakis, G. S. Virk and T. Sattar, "Mooring chain climbing robot for ndt inspection applications," in Climbing and Walking Robots and Support Technologies for Mobile Machines CLAWAR 2018, Panama City, 2018.
  • M. Dissanayake, T. Sattar, G. Tat-Hean, I. Pinson and S. Lowe, “Design and prototype of a magnetic adhesion tracked-wheel robotic platform for mooring chain inspection,” Journal of Systems and Control Engineering: Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part I, vol. 232, no. 8, pp. 1063-1074, 2018.
  • M. Dissanayake, T. Sattar, S. Lowe, I. Pinson and T.-H. Gan, “Adaptable legged-magnetic adhesion tracked wheel robotic platform for misaligned mooring chain climbing and inspection,” Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 45, no. 5, pp. 634-646, 2018.
  • M. Dissanayake, T. Sattar, I. Pinson and T.-H. Gan, “Tracked-wheel crawler robot for vertically aligned mooring chain climbing design,” in IEEE International Conference on Industrial and Information Systems (ICIIS), Kandy, Sri Lanka, 2017.
  • M. Dissanayake, O. Howlader, T. Sattar, T.-H. Gan and I. Pinson , “Development of a novel crawler based robot for mooring chain climbing,” in Proc. of 20th International Conference on CLAWAR 2017, Portugal, 2017.
  • 2017 Mahesh Dissanayake, Tariq P. Sattar, Tat-Hean Gan, Ivan Pinson,  Orthogonally Positioned Tracked Crawler Robot for Vertically Aligned Mooring Chain Climbing, ICIIS'2017 in Robotics, Control and Automation track, IEEE Explor , Dec 2017.
  • Kaur, A., Ma, B., Corsar, M., Sattar, T., Nicholson, I.P., and Clarke, A. (2018) RiserSure: Automated Deployment of Digital Radiography for Subsea Inspection of Flexible Risers. 23rd IEEE International Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation (ETFA18), Torino Italy 4-7/9/18
  • Cheilakou E, Tsopelas N, Brashaw T, Anastasopoulos A, Nicholson I, Clarke A, Sattar T, Kaur A, Ma B, Shah A (2018) Digital Radiography Inspection of Flexible Risers in Offshore Oil and Gas Industry. 1st International conference on welding & non destructive testing 2018, Athens Greece 22-23/10/18
  • G. Gallegos Garrido, T. Sattar, M. Corsar, R. James and D. Seghier, “Towards Safe Inspection of Long Weld Line son Ship Hulls using and Autonomous Robot”; CLAWAR 2018, Panama City.
  • G. Gallegos Garrido, M. Corsar, “An App to Design Flux Focusing Adhesion System for Climbing Robots”; COMSOL 2019, Cambridge, UK.
  • 2017, Richard Anvo, Tariq P. Sattar, Tat-hean Gan, Ivan Pinson, Non-Destructive Testing Robots (NDTBots) For In-Service Storage Tank Inspection, CLAWAR 2017, 11-13 Sept 2017, Porto, PT - published
  • 2016 Howlader, MD Omar. Faruq. & Sattar, Tariq Pervez, Design and Optimization of Permanent Magnet Based Adhesion Module for Robots Climbing on Reinforced Concrete Surfaces. Springer book: Intelligent Systems and Applications. eBook ISBN: 978-3-319-33386-1, Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-319-33384-7, Series ISSN: 1860-949X, Editors: Bi, Yaxin, Kapoor, Supriya, Bhatia, Rahul, Chapter pages 153-171.
  • 2016, Sattar T.P., Hilton Paul, Howlader Md O.F., Deployment of laser cutting head with wall climbing robot for nuclear decommissioning, Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Climbing and Walking Robots and Support Technologies for Mobile Machines (CLAWAR 2016), London, United Kingdom, September 12 – 14, 2016, pp725-732, World Scientific, ISBN 978-981-3149-12-0