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ESMERA Monthly, August 2021 Edition

Welcome to your monthly update on European SME’s robotics innovation. We would appreciate any feedback, please send your comments via e-mail to
esmera-news@lms.mech.upatras.gr.

Who we are

ESMERA is a starting point for European SMEs in designing and developing robotic solutions, providing mentorship, networking and funding.
Key European companies have defined industry challenges in two open calls. A total of 32 experiments have been funded which address those challenges. The teams are supported by the ESMERA consortium, made up of four leading competence centers and three successful facilitators acting as mentors.

ESMERA Second Open Call for Experiments (SOCE)

While ESMERA First Open Call for Experiments (ESMERA-FOCE) covered only four challenge areas, the Second Open Call (ESMERA-SOCE) targets eight sectors: agriculture, construction, emergency response, energy, food processing, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail. 20 experiments had started their Phase I in May 2020 and completed it in March 2021 (more information here). 10 experiments from the ESMERA-SOCE were selected to continue into Phase II. This issue covers the selected experiments from the emergency response and energy sectors, ROMERO and AeroWind. Happy reading!

ROMERO

Natural disasters are a major force in shaping ecosystems. Volcanic eruptions are one of them and management of volcanic areas is crucial since many volcanic eruptions are also accompanied by other natural hazards, such as earthquakes, landslides, debris flows, flash floods, fires and tsunamis. Authorities require a smooth flow of information to take countermeasures before and after such disasters. Indeed, in volcanic areas, early detection systems significantly improve response plans.

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Visual 1: Sea Buoy
The ROMERO experiment addresses safety-ensured data collection and processing duties in volcanic regions. It is a novel, low-cost robotic swarm system that consists of resident data acquisition devices and autonomous vehicles. The developed system constantly acquires and processes data from the field with the aim of informing the emergency response officers of any potential threats. The system is capable of operating autonomously in an emergency scenario.

AeroWind

In the context of sustainability and decarbonization, energy production from the wind plays a crucial role. Blades of wind turbines are quite precious as they are at the heart of harnessing the wind. Wind turbines require a proper periodic control and maintenance. Considering the size and the accessibility of the turbines, inspection is time-consuming, tedious and expensive. Until recently, these control operations were done by human operators in many wind farms.
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Visual 1: AeroWind Ready to Take-off
Thanks to the technological developments in UAVs and camera systems, this process has become partly autonomous with remote inspections now being carried out. Currently, visual inspection methods require the wind turbine to be stopped thus causing a significant loss of potential electricity production. AeroWind is an autonomous visual inspection system which enables inspection of wind turbine blades without stopping and therefore interrupting energy production. It is therefore of great interest to operators of wind farms and of benefit to the general public as it has a huge potential impact on environmental sustainability.
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Visual 2: ROMORO System
The ROMERO system consists of:
-> A sea buoy equipped with sensors (thermal and pH), radio connections and a data processing unit for continuous monitoring of the designated location,
->An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for the automatic engagement and execution of pre-planned missions,
-> An Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) for collecting visual images and environmental data from the designated underwater area,
-> A control station for collecting and processing data, alarming the officers prior to the incidents, managing and executing the whole system.
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Visual 3: UAV, Sensors & Control Station
Through allowing personnel to make decisions informed by real-time data, ROMERO shortens response times considerably in the event of a volcanic outbreak. The system also has the potential to substantially reduce operational hazards in volcanic areas as it eliminates the need for direct human interaction in the field.
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Visual 2: AeroWind on Field Test
The AeroWind project has incorporated the following technological developments:

->A UAV navigation and control system is developed to solve the stereo mapping problems by generating UAV reference points along wind-turbine blades online. The navigation module is based on the point-cloud from on-board LiDAR and images from the stereo camera, fused with GPS and IMU data. The LiDAR provides a 3D map of the surroundings. It uses the information from the LiDAR to calculate the constantly changing plane of the wind turbine and the exact position of the wind turbine hub as well as a count of each blade. Finally, a hybrid robust adaptive control technique is utilized to compensate for wind gusts and turbulence.

->A Blade capture module is developed to provide well-lit images, with exposure time downs to tens of microseconds by using a very high quantum efficiency image sensor. Furthermore, the blade capture module incorporates a camera paired with a lens. This combination not only makes the system small and lightweight enough for the UAV but also makes it still powerful enough to deliver quality images given the "short exposure time" and "low light" conditions.

ESMERA Spotlight Interview Series

The first two of the ESMERA Spotlight interview series, whose beginning was announced in the last newsletter, will be available in August. Stay tuned to learn more about developments and experiences of
NERO from Dr. Jorge Presa and
ROMERO from Dr. Vincenzo Calabrò.
Find video interviews soon on our ESMERA Youtube, LinkedIn and Twitter pages.
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