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Miami JetSnake

Cleaning and Inspection of TBMs

OC Robotics supplied Bouygues Travaux Publics with a snake-arm to clean and inspect the cutting head of a tunnel boring machine (TBM) beneath the Port of Miami.

As tunnels are dug deeper, maintenance becomes increasingly hazardous for people. In Miami the ambient pressure was 3.5bar, at 50 degrees Celsius, with 100% humidity and considerable amounts of salt, mud and rock. In the future, tunnel pressure will increase to 12bar making human entry extremely challenging and expensive.

The JetSnake system includes a spatial snake-arm robot. The head of the snake-arm contains a 400bar water jet, a high-quality zoom camera and lamps for inspection.

The Port of Miami project provided an opportunity to take the proof of concept design directly to site test. The timescales were compressed and the technical risk was considerable. The implementation required design of a pressure control system, sleeving for the environment, increased reach and integration within a TBM.

The proof of concept JetSnake system acheived the trial objectives and Bouygues Travaux Publics intends to use the solution in future deep tunnelling projects.

More information on JetSnake and other construction applications can be found in OC Robotics' Construction Case Studies.