Politecnico di Torino - Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24 - 10129 Torino, ITALY

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System for inspecting and/or treating large surfaces

Automatic maintenanceBridgescableGrandi struttureLarge structuresRobotRobotic inspection


The present invention consists of a robotic system for inspecting and/or treating large surfaces. It is made by moving cables connected to pulleys and to a carrier where can be placed tools for inspection, measurement, and/or treatment. The system is configured to work in a two-dimensional space, for instance a horizontal (i.e., orthogonal to the gravity direction) or vertical plane. The proposed device is able to reach areas with difficult access (e.g., the bottom part of large bridge decks or building facades) and to perform different tasks such as inspecting and detecting possible defects like cracks, fractures, or corrosions, or to perform cleaning procedure and surface treatment.

Technical features

The system consists of ten pulleys arranged over a plane and able at moving, through cables, along two orthogonal directions (namely, X and Y directions) a carrier hauling tools for inspection, measurement, and/or treatment. The system is composed of a rigid body (i.e., the carrier) moving along one direction (the X direction) through two pairs of moving pulleys connected to two sides of the carrier. Such pulleys can move along the Y direction by means of a further set of six fixed pulleys and so as to allow the rigid body to span across the whole working plane. All movements are obtained by motors activating two of the six fixed pulleys so that, by rotating in the same sense, provide the movement along the X direction, while, by rotating in opposite sense, the movement along the Y direction is obtained. Experimental proof of concept was developed in the EU project DESDEMONA. A pilot project will be presented (12/24 m) to deliver a product in the market (TRL 3).

Possible Applications

  • Inspection and/or treatment of large and difficult to access surfaces;
  • Configurable system to work both on a horizontal plane, perpendicular to the force of gravity (roofs, bridge decks) and vertically (pylons, dams, walls);
  • Inspection and/or survey of possible defects such as cracks, fractures or corrosion;
  • Maintenance.


  • Low energy consumption;
  • Reduced bulk of the terminal element in the direction orthogonal to the plane of displacement of the latter;
  • High precision for moving the terminal element over the entire surface to be inspected or treated;
  • System that can be integrated into the structure during the design phase and can be installed on existing structures.