Throughout industry, Ultrasonic Testing (UT) of welds is a critical part of infrastructure security, integrity, and productivity. However, current UT systems require controlled, laboratory-like environments to be effective and are difficult to adapt to field conditions, requiring significant technician intervention.
Industrial robots have the potential to solve these problems. Unfortunately the teleoperation of robotic manipulators requires a great deal of robotics expertise and even still is error prone. What’s more, no off-the-shelf solutions exist for such field applications of robotic UT because of multiple technical hurdles which are not easily overcome.
In this application note we show how to transform any industrial robotic manipulator into a flexible, accurate, and cost-effective platform for field UT weld inspection.
Key technical challenges
- Calibrating the robot
- Understanding real environment
- Adapting the inspection to the real environment
Using standard time-of-flight sensors the inspection area is reconstructed in 3D. This information is used to plan motions, detect collisions and localize the robot with respect to the equipment to inspect.
Using the localised 3D CAD models of the inspection area, Fuzzy Studio™ is used to automatically and intuitively generate collision free robot trajectories for scanning the welds and areas needing NDT,
With the state-of-the-art VAX™ laser triangulation sensor, a scan is then performed on the inspection areas. With its custom processing algorithms, sub-millimeter point clouds provide precise profilometry data.
Thanks to advanced 3D registration algorithms, the PRIMUS system is then able to match the real-world profilometry data to the theoretical 3D geometry of the inspection area. This provides for more accurate ultrasound laws.
Finally, with the adjusted ultrasound laws and precise environmental data, the robot can then be teleoperated via Fuzzy Studio™ by any NDT technician to both detect and characterize flaws and defects.