LTA looking to test drones for MRT and road tunnel inspections

Rather than sending people down to manually inspect train tunnels, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is looking to see how it can get drones to do the job instead.
Rather than sending people down to manually inspect train tunnels, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is looking to see how it can get drones to do the job instead.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is looking into using drones to inspect train tunnels.

In a statement on Wednesday (March 1), the LTA said that it has issued a request for information to source for people who can design and develop trials for conducting automated MRT tunnel inspections using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones.

It is also looking to carry out road tunnel inspections using unmanned vehicles (UV), drones, or other technology.

"The trials should incorporate 360-degree video mapping of the tunnels, as well as software to automatically detect defects from the video taken and provide their location," the authority said.

Currently, problems such as cracks or water leaks are typically detected through regular manual inspections. Drone inspections would ideally be more accurate and less labour-intensive. Using drones would also allow engineers to focus on analysing the data captured by the drones.

The LTA added that drones are already being deployed at 10 Thomson-East Coast Line worksites, where they are used to monitor progress through aerial photos and videos.

"These new trials will help to further current research developments and validate UAS and UV technologies under demanding operational conditions," it said.

"If found effective, LTA aims to fully deploy these technologies for tunnel inspections in the next five years."