Axel, the remote-controlled, high-preforming rover for the inspection of critical environments in the construction industry.

AXEL – Autonomous Exploration Electrified – is a unique prototype in the world: it can carry out explorations inside tunnels and galleries which are risky for workers’ health, replacing human presence completely and guaranteeing high-level performances in total safety.

What are the advantages?

Axel is a zero-emission robot, fully electric, and it can move in complex spaces with slopes, obstacles and water fords. Axel is the safest and most efficient solution to prepare restoration interventions in dangerous working environments, such as air washing and exchange, walls consolidation, installation of electrical and air transportation systems.

In only 4 months, the national Competence Center CIM4.0 together with its industrial partners, has developed an innovative solution to explore the last part of La Maddalena tunnel in Chiomonte (Turin) and perform preliminary controls in total safety.

How was it possible in such a short developing time?

CIM4.0 technicians worked with the team of Webuild to clearly identify the prototype requirements and needs, supported by the competences of the Competence Center ecosystem on technological transfer. More specifically, we are talking about Merlo concerning electric working means; Iren with its Laser Navigation and experience in long-distance exploration techniques; Reply for the application of digital technologies and sensors; Thales Alenia Space for the preparation of explorations in extreme working environments.

In addition, digital twin development and fast prototyping capacities provided by CIM4.0 Additive Manufacturing technology were fundamental, as much as the smart working distance collaboration between labs and workshops and the availability of a representative test track.

✓The result is a unique vehicle adapt to work in very severe conditions:

  • Remote guidance with no repeaters up to 2 km distance: vehicle controlled via radio by an operator in a safe station (base station)
  • Zero emissions: fully-electric vehicle powered by battery
  • Autonomy of over 10 km: 23kWh of battery energy
  • Safety: zero lithium batteries, suitable for high temperature environments (no fire risk), low voltage due to the presence of abundant water (no risk of electrocution)
  • Ability to overcome large obstacles: hollows and slopes (over 60%), sleepers of 20 cm, fords up to 30 cm of depth
  • Environmental monitoring: certified system for the collection of environmental data (context images, temperature, humidity, presence of dangerous gases, …)
  • Dynamic data collection: the system capable of analyzing data in real-time and transmitting them to the base station
  • Resistance to critical environmental conditions: temperatures up to 45°C and relative humidity of 80%, water dripping, fords, etc.
  • Reliability: communication based on automotive-type CAN protocol, with control units and power partly deriving from a premium-series vehicle