Currently there is no drilling technology that autonomously navigates and effectively exploits the three dimensional workspace of the underground. Any demanding underground installation, construction, repair or inspection demands for open-cut excavation of large surface area incurring high explicit and implicit costs. Quite often these become prohibitively high, mostly due to interventions needed on existing surface infrastructures. Furthermore, so far, there are no published research results for the development of robotic trenchless technology for civil applications, contrary to space applications where some notable results exist.
The BADGER project, for the first time, puts together state-of-the-art trenchless technology, robotic technology, advanced perception and cognition algorithms and information system technology to provide a breakthrough in trenchless technologies and enable the access and systematic utilisation of the underground environment in a cost effective and efficient way.
Within the project, experts on trenchless constructions together with scientist and engineers from the field of robotics, control, cognition, information systems and radar technology, will perform research and development for realizing a novel technology that provides the tools for exploiting the underground for a diverse range of applications. Apart from the overarching functionalities of the proposed robotic device, each of the individual components and subsystems that will be developed offer plenty of opportunities for innovation, especially in the fields of robotic mechanisms and locomotion, Ground Penetrating Radar technology, drilling technologies (where a novel ultrasonic drill will be integrated with commercially available bore heads), novel semantic tools for interpreting the structures in the underground space and novel GIS system that merge surface and subsurface landmarks.