Webuild introduces tunnel-exploring robot

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The robot can venture into areas with unknown atmospheric conditions

The robot can venture into areas with unknown atmospheric conditions

Axel – Autonomous Exploration Electrified Vehicle – has been used to carry out preliminary inspection at the Nicchie La Maddalena site on Italian side of Turin-Lyon base tunnel project. Webuild needed to inspect 3km kilometres of an exploratory tunnel to ensure that the unknown atmospheric conditions were safe for workers.

The tunnel is being built on behalf of client Tunnel Euralpin Lyon-Turin (Telt), a French-Italian public entity responsible for the development and management of a high-speed/high-capacity railway under the Alps.

The remote-controlled prototype, which has been named after the main character in the novel ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ written by Jules Verne, has been developed for Webuild. It has been designed to resist harsh atmospheric conditions and to be substituted for workers during tunnel exploration.   

Axel is aimed at improving the safety of workers involved in the excavation of the Turin-Lyon base tunnel. The remote-controlled robot is able to inspect the atmospheric conditions of a tunnel where potential risks are unknown.

The robot is the result of a collaboration between the Webuild Group and a research centre called Competence Industry Manufacturing 4.0 (Cim).

Axel is equipped with cameras, sensors, communication antennas, which allowed for the gathering and analysis of data on the atmosphere to identify areas where workers can work in safety. It can be controlled remotely for up to 2km.

Related Information

The Axel robot can be controlled remotely for up to 2km.
The Axel robot can be controlled remotely for up to 2km.

The work to be done at the Nicchie La Maddalena site is part of the preparations for the excavation of the base tunnel, which will be 65km long.

Webuild is also working on other Telt lots. In July 2021, the group and its partners won a contract worth €1.43 billion for the excavation of a section of the base tunnel.

Lot 2 involves the construction sites of La Praz and Saint-Martin-de-la-Porte.

It also involves a total of 46km of tunnels that will include two parallel tunnels forming the railway line, as well as a system of auxiliary tunnels. In 2020, the Group and consortium partners were awarded a €450m contract for Lot 5A.

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