Civil Transport System
Contribute to increase safety and security of the overall civil transport system
Figures from France, Italy, and Germany consistently show that 1 in 10 bridges are at risk of failure, posing a significant threat to life. The integrated RAPID innovations will improve remote UAS inspection survey productivity, and extend the addressable market to all maritime accessible transport infrastructure, thus improving the safety of the transport system by enabling more frequent structural inspections for earlier detection of faults. The automated service is designed to conduct condition monitoring of over 85% of bridges in the transport system bridges using waterway access, as well as all coastal zone shipping (cargo and passenger) and port infrastructure.
The project will be embedded in Hamburg Port within the structural inspection engineering team, fast-tracking field evaluation on equipment and intermodal bridges within the Port, and we will utilise the XOC USV to enable mobile access to ships in the Port and on approach lanes. Post project market replication will enable scaling across the overall civil transport bridge network to meet the demand for over 2,000 bridges inspections every day across the EU and US. Over 10,000 bridges across Europe are in a dangerous state and at risk of collapse as they reach the end of their life.
This was tragically highlighted by the death of 43 people from the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa, Italy in August 2018. According to a recent report by the American Society of Civil Engineers, 1 out of every 11 bridges in the US is also rated structurally deficient. Remote-controlled UAS surveys are already 20 times faster than conventional methods, as evidenced during building construction, as well as a survey of ship tanks. The RAPID value proposition of fully automated MI survey delivered by remote UAS and USV swarm, without any human intervention, unlocks the scalability required to realise the impact of a life-saving and secure civilian transport system. With RAPID able to exploit waterway access to interlinked survey sites, downtime due to survey crew transport and mobilisation is eliminated, which is typically over 50% of the overall survey time allocation. RAPID also consolidates underwater and aerial survey to enable full asset inspection as the USV (and any ROV/AUV force multipliers) can simultaneous inspect submerged hull panels, or the bed profile and foundation condition of bridges, using multibeam and imaging SONAR inspection (equivalent paradigm to LiDAR and camera aerial imaging). RAPID will be the most cost-effective, accurate, and far-reaching structural condition monitoring service available.
The return on investment will incentivise its commercial adoption and realise the ultimate goals of preventing an unexpected collapse of bridges, and disruption to critical supply chains caused by extended infrastructure downtime.
Security (Theft protection): RAPID is designed as a multi-purpose UAS service delivery for use cases requiring remote sensing data collection, inherently supporting uses cases such as security surveillance. One of the biggest challenges in maritime cargo transport is the disproportionate loss incurred when cargo is stolen or lost, estimated to cost the industry $50bn annually, according to the US National Cargo Security Council.79 Losses can occur in a myriad of ways, including premeditated criminal intent, such as breaking into ports to steal goods. Criminal gangs are using 3D printing to create perfect replicas of well-known cable seals, security locks and keys, and using these to break into containers and obscure any signs of theft, such as a broken seal. The integrity of containers is most vulnerable when they are static, such as alongside terminals. RAPID will improve intruder detection by enabling sentry surveillance in zones difficult to cover using CCTV. In particular, it will improve waterside perimeter security to detect unauthorised access to containers by thieves. Security (Fire response): By equipping the UAS with a thermal camera, RAPID will improve early response to fires. According to the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association submission to the International
Maritime Organisation in July 2017, 10% of containers contain declared dangerous goods, or approximately 5.4 million units annually.80 However, mislabelled containers are the main cause of unexpected container fires and motion disturbance during loading, and unloading can cause flammable goods to ignite. While just 0.76% of cargo claims are due to fire, in terms of total costs of claims fire represents 28%. Marine insurers calculate their average exposure per container at €50,000 – €100,000. Early fire warning will save lives and allow affected ports to recover quickly without much disruption or costly downtime. RAPID will also enable aerial evidence to be collected during a fire outbreak to inform post-fire investigation and liability assessment.
Ensuring appropriate legal frameworks and advancing safety systems certification and setting standards with potential to become a global reference
RAPID has collaboration and engagement with EASA as the cornerstone of our methodology to include regulatory stakeholders in the project development. By improving standardisation, though RAPID Standard Scenarios and cementing the EASA framework as the benchmark reference, the project will enable “unmanned vehicles as-a-service” in maritime, rural, industrial, and urban sectors. RAPID will stimulate growth in the autonomous equipment manufacturing market by unlocking a unique synergy between the UAS and USV sectors.
Knowledge and Acceptance
Building knowledge and acceptance within society for the steps described within U-Space
RAPID has a strong agenda to attain social acceptance of UAS and will address privacy and security, support quality UAS careers, create awareness of UAS safety and regulation, and demonstrate environmental benefits. RAPID will reinforce that UAS operations are envisaged in a safe, non-intrusive, secure, and green framework. The communication strategy (WP8) will mitigate external barriers linked to public acceptance and build stakeholder confidence in a widespread roll-out of UAS services. The tangible impact on society of U-Space services such as RAPID resonates with the positive effects of wide-area satellite communication, observation, and navigation brought about by the space industry.
RAPID is an enabling U-space framework designed to validate specialised data collection services directed at increasing the integrity of the transport system along with the coastal and inshore white ribbon before scaling across the overall maritime and terrestrial intermodal network. Urban industrial ports are high-complexity and high-risk environments. By demonstrating safeguarded operation in high complexity port situations, RAPID will open new ways to use low-altitude urban airspace. The dockland airspace in port cities has a direct relationship with the upstream urban centres offering adjacencies to commercial and residential buildings and infrastructure. Unlocking this UAS airspace is higher risk and directly affects the inhabitants more than industrial applications.
Cargo and Passengers
Contribute to enhancing safe and seamless mobility of cargo and passengers
RAPID will accelerate the inspection survey to reduce downtime during routine condition monitoring and minimise the disruption caused by maritime accidents. In 2017, the global shipping industry transported nearly €4 trillion worth of good and total volumes reached 10.7 billion tonnes. European ports are responsible for the safety and mobility of 400 million passengers every year and handle 4 billion tonnes of freight, with the ten busiest EU container ports handling 60 million TEUs (twenty-foot containers). Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Hamburg serve as Europe’s top three ports. The 52,000 ship merchant fleet that keeps the supply chain moving needs regular periodic hull-condition assessments. Any extended downtime in ports during hull inspection survey quickly erodes into the 1-5% quarterly profit margins of shipping companies and undermines sector competitiveness overall.
RAPID is designed to incentivise adoption by improving profit margins, and it will achieve this through both increasing revenue generation and decreasing overheads in European short, deep, and inland marine shipping. While providing a more accurate and cost-effective hull inspection survey in less time than competing solutions, RAPID will also reduce disruption to shipping itineraries caused by accidents on shipping lanes. As shown in Figure 1, 58% of EU freight shipping is via short sea (representing intra-Europe and EU-28 trade), and 28% via deepsea shipping (from intercontinental trading partners in America, Oceania, Africa, and Asia) with inland waterways moving the remaining 13% through Europe’s heartland along 37,000 km of rivers and canals. As the majority of EU-shipping is internal short sea shipping comprised of relatively short transit legs, these routes are disproportionality impacted by transit delays, such as and disruptions caused by en-route accidents, port entry queues, and extended terminal turn-around. However, intercontinental routes are also adversely affected by delays that result in missed tide windows. Intercontinental container routes take 10-30 days to complete, costing over €100,000 per day, of which 50-60% of total operating costs is fuel. The average in-port turn-around time is 1-2 days. The shipping industry is trending towards increasingly large container ships and consolidating operations to improve utilisation and boost margins. As large vessels have draft limits and require high tide to enter and exit ports, a 15 min delay can result in an additional half-day wait for a slot in the next tide window. Along the supply chain, at fault operators become liable for demurrage and detention fees while disruptions have a crippling impact on retailer inventory management and the overall supply chain economy.
In the EU over 1,000 emergency hull inspections are required each year in response to casualty incidents, disrupting transit of directly affected ships and traffic on shipping lanes, especially on port entry/exit approaches.
The European Maritime Safety Agency reports casualty statistics for ships flying an EU flag or operating within EU waters. In the period 2011-2017, of the 20,616 casualties and incidents involving 23,264 ships, the most significant navigation-related occurrences were collision (23.3%) and contact (16.3%). Cargo (42.5%) and passenger (22.6%) ships were the main categories. 42% of the casualties took place in port areas followed by 28.6% in coastal waters – overall, 75% of reported casualties occurred in EU waters. Two thousand two hundred forty-nine ships were reported unfit to proceed with 3257 ships overall needed towage or shore assistance over the 2011-2017 period. In 2% of cases, sea pollution resulted. It is evident that the majority of occurrences are not critical, with over 90% of ships fit to proceed and 80% of casualties classified as less serious or marine incidents. Collision and contact occurrences do however require immediate structural damage inspection to classify the hull condition, contain any pollution, and provide preparatory intelligence for emergency maintenance.
With over half of casualties occurring within reach of a port, RAPID will provide the capability to perform fast response casualty inspection on location (coastal zone locations, i.e. <12 nautical miles, are quickly reachable by XOC USV that is capable of 36 knots). RAPID will allow for immediate in-situ decision-making wherein the majority of cases ships will then proceed en route, minimising overall disruption to cargo and passenger mobility and reducing the impact of incidents on port schedule. RAPID will cut ship-inspection survey duration by 90- 95%, resulting in typical time saving from two to three days reduced down to two to three hours. It will also minimise pollution spread from flooding or ballast and fuel leaks occurring through fast detection and containment.
RAPID builds upon complementary research within the consortium into USV/AUV enabled below-waterline ship hull survey-as-a-service (RoboVaaS). RAPID will produce a unified cooperative UAS/USV/AUV solution for full ship survey remote from Port and/or while the ship is in transit. RAPID will minimise inspection delays, enable early detection of faults, and improve asset management by giving more predictable and lower maintenance costs. By preventing a single delay per month on shipping lanes, RAPID will double industry profit margins, the equivalent of doubling fleet utilisation for beneficiary shipping companies.