HERON

Enhanced robotic platform for road maintenance and improvement works

HERON’s objective is to develop an automated and integrated system to perform road maintenance and improvement tasks such as crack sealing, pothole patching, asphalt rejuvenation, autonomous replacement of CUD elements or the painting of markings. It is also intended to support the pre- and post-intervention phase, including visual inspections and automated and controlled dispensing and removal of traffic cones. The HERON system consists of:

● Autonomous ground robotic vehicle that will be supported by autonomous drones to coordinate maintenance works and the pre-/post- intervention phase.
● Various robotic equipment, including sensors and actuators (e.g., tools for cut and fill, surface material placement and compaction, modular components installation, laser scanners for 3D mapping) placed on the main vehicle.
● Sensing interface installed both to the robotic platform and to the Road Infrastructures (RI) to allow improved monitoring (situational awareness) of the structural, functional and RI’s and markings’ conditions.
● The control software that interconnects the sensing interface with the actuating robotic equipment.
● Augmented Reality (AR) visualization tools that enable the robotic system to see in detail surface defects and markings under survey.
● Artificial Intelligence/AI-based toolkits that will act as the middleware of a twofold role for:

  1. optimally coordinating the road maintenance/upgrading workflows and
  2. intelligent processing of distributed data coming from the vehicle and the infrastructure sensors for safe operations and not disruption of other routine operations or traffic flows.

● Integrate all data in an enhanced visualisation user interface supporting decisions.
● Communication modules to allow for Vehicle-to-Infrastructure/-Everything (V2I/X) data exchange for predictive maintenance and increase users safety.

Therefore, HERON will allow for a modular design of the system operation, maximizing its capabilities and adaptability for various transport infrastructures, while reducing fatal accidents, maintenance costs, traffic disruptions, thus increasing the network capacity and efficiency.

ROBOTNIK IN THE PROJECT

Robotnik’s role in HERON project is to design and develop a Smart Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) capable of performing the required inspection and maintenance actions. The company, with its expertise in mobile robotics, will make all the needed adaptations in the robotized vehicle, not only those regarding the road maintenance capabilities with a collaborative arm and different equipment, but also the ones referring to the integration of other ΗΕRΟΝ developments into the prototype (sensor integration, UAV carrier system etc.). These actions will be dealt with within WP5: “Development of the Robotic Platform, Improved Navigation and integration with the sensing devices” under the lead of Robotnik.