PILOTING aims to develop a complete inspection platform that will provide to the end-users with the exact and proper information required to plan the necessary maintenance of the infrastructure, preventing future accidents and fulfilling the required regulation and industrial standards. Here, we will present the inspection uses cases that will be the subject of pilots within each PILOTING



PILOTING aims to develop a complete inspection platform that will provide to the end-users with the exact and proper information required to plan the necessary maintenance of the infrastructure, preventing future accidents and fulfilling the required regulation and industrial standards. Here, we will present the inspection uses cases that will be the subject of pilots within each PILOTING


If you are interested in PILOTING project, please send an email to piloting-project@catec.aero to become a member PILOTING User Group


Refinery ground monitoring

Currently, refineries require the involvement of thousands of workers on-site in a single plant. Most of them are exposed to dangerous situations and extreme conditions in isolated sites. Thus, there is a clear drive for the Oil and Gas industry in reducing as much as possible the presence of operators in a refinery facility. Operations like monitoring and inspection routines require the presence of personnel for tasks like for example analogy sensor readings. The present use case addresses the use of robotic technologies to automatize routinely inspection tasks that currently are carried out by the operators surveying the plant on foot.

Refinery vessels inspection

Inspections from the interior of vessels are characterized by working in enclosed spaces. The associated safety risks to service personnel are a major factor for refinery owners. PILOTING proposes using robotic crawlers to carry out the inspection tasks minimizing the preparation time before entering the vessel and avoiding or significantly reducing the time a human must spend in the confined space. Equipment required for human entry and work, such as scaffolding and ventilation, can be foregone as well, further reducing costs and job duration. Robotic systems also offer an opportunity to gather inspection data that is more comprehensive, reliable and repeatable.

Refinery pipes inspection

Inspection of process pipes using non-destructive testing (NDT) methods is crucial for the oil and gas industry. A typical plant may contain several kilometers of pipework, and the identification of features such as valves, bends, tee joints, and welds can be difficult.. Henceforth, the development and consolidation of a high TRL robotic solution for NDT pipes inspection is a priority for the end-user. The experience gained from previous project triggers the use a hybrid robot for this type of inspection. Thus, the so-called Hybrid Mobile Robot (HMR) is composed of an aerial platform and a satellite robot. The aerial platform houses the satellite, which is in charge of the inspection itself.

Refinery large structures inspection

Large structures are frequent all over an Oil & Gas refinery. Their manual inspection is tedious, as well as slow since it is currently done with operators hanged from the top of the structure. They have to descend over the structure, take the measurement and move, usually with significant risks and time, to the next point. Hence, the inspection of these kinds of infrastructures with a UAV can be potentially exploited by the industry. The current use case aims to perform non-destructive testing (NDT) inspections by mean of an aerial robot, which will carry the sensors for the inspection.


Viaduct – Surveying targets installation for geometrical precise measurements

In order to measure the impact of visual defects on the structure from an image is to be able to calculate some of its properties. For example, if the defect is a crack, we can measure its length, width, orientation and depth. Following this example, we can easily measure the length and orientation and we definitely can’t measure the depth with an image. The width though, can be too small to measure it with enough accuracy just with the picture. That is why we need to use small surveying passive targets with a millimetric or sub-millimetric pattern, which can be used as a reference to improve the accuracy of the measurement. Moreover, those passive devices can also include a reflective part which can be also used for precise geometrical measurements by advanced tools like a total station. Therefore, it has been considered the installation of surveying targets.

Viaduct – Sensor installation

There are cases where it is no possible to detect defects through the visual inspection. on the viaduct. However, there are devices that can help to detect different types of non-visible defects. For instance, a sensor box with sensors like accelerometers or IMUs can monitor the viaduct structure. These boxes should be placed on the right location to work, and that location happens to be difficult to access most of the times (e.g. above the pillars). An aerial robot with manipulation capabilities could help installing these devices. On the one hand, this robot will be able to place a metric sticker on the pillars. On the other hand, this robot will also be able to carry the sensor box and place it on top of the pillar.

Viaduct bearings inspection

Bearings are a critical part of a viaduct structure. They support the deck over the pillars. Thus, it is very relevant to periodically inspect them looking for defects which could indicate the deterioration of the material and the loss of the bearing performance. The main issue is that bearings are highly inaccessible, just between the deck and the top of the pillars. A small aerial robot, with the ability to attach to the bottom of the viaduct’s deck and move without losing contact with it, would allow getting close to the bearings. In addition, sticking to the deck makes the aerial robot more stable and then it will be able to take better high-quality images of the bearings from all the angles.

Viaduct visual inspection

A first step to be performed in such a large structure as a viaduct is to carry out a general visual inspection. Due to the dimensions of this type of infrastructures, the detection of defects is slow, and it frequently derives in an inherent danger for the operator. Hence, firstly general visual inspection will be carried out with a UAV along the viaduct. This first inspection will aim to detect as many defects as possible. Once this general inspection has been conducted, the main defects to be monitored will be selected. After that, and once the devices installation has been performed, the UAV will come back to those defects that have been prepared for a more detailed inspection.


Tunnel local inspection

This use case is a more thorough inspection of the tunnel, stopping to get every possible detail of the previously detected defects or even detecting new ones. In order to achieve this level of detail, the system consists of two robots, one ground robot and one aerial robot.The ground robot has several advantages like the autonomy, the stability and the payload capacity. At the general tunnel inspection, this robot is in charge of inspecting all the details of the defects it could. However, tunnels are big, and there might be parts of it that are too far from the ground robot to get the required accuracy in some measurements. The aerial robot can get closer to those defects and then take the detailed measurements, while the ground robot provides the precise localization of the robotic system along system.

Tunnel general inspection

The objective of the tunnel general inspection use case is to obtain an overview of the tunnel condition as well as the location of possible issues/faults to be more closely inspected during the more detailed local inspection. The inspection mission will be carried out using a robotic cart fitted with various sensors to allow safe and autonomous navigation in tunnel environments. The information collected will be used to localize and visualize detected issues/faults within the tunnel, giving operators an improved situational understanding and enabling the follow-up local inspection mission to be planned in detail. Road tunnels present a particular challenge for autonomous inspection due to the unavailability of GNSS for localization, the dark and featureless environments, the small scale of some of the faults to be detected, and the possible presence of other moving vehicles. PILOTING will produce several new technologies that address these challenges, advancing the state of the art within robotic infrastructure inspection systems.