Zhang, J., Niu, X., Croxford, A. J., & Drinkwater, B. W. (2022). Strategies for guided acoustic wave inspection using mobile robots. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 478(2259).
Continuous non-destructive monitoring of large-scale structures is extremely challenging with traditional manual inspections. In this paper, we explore possible strategies that a collection of inspection robots could adopt to address this challenge. We envision the continuous inspection of a plate performed by multiple robots or a single robot that combines measurements from multiple locations. The robots use guided ultrasonic waves to interrogate a localized region for defects such as cracking or corrosion. In the detection stage, the receiver operating characteristic defines a detection zone in which a defect is thought to be present. In the localization stage, further measurements are made to locate the defect within this zone to a certain accuracy. We then address the question of what additional measurements are needed to achieve a given level of performance in the presence of uncertainty in robot locations? We explore this problem with Monte Carlo simulations that reveal the compromise between number of robots and performance in terms of defect location accuracy. In an experimental validation example on an aluminium plate, we show that six measurements arranged in a pentagon with a central measurement point leads to localization errors of similar magnitude to the uncertainty in sensor loc