© Fraunhofer IFF

Robots: Humans' Dependable Helpers#

Research and Development in Robotic Systems

Inspection and Cleaning Robots for Sewer Systems: Damage Detection System#

© Fraunhofer IFF

The inspection of large, partially filled, continually operating sewer lines constitutes a particular challenge for sewer operators. The damage detection system (SEK) developed by the Fraunhofer IFF for the Emschergenossenschaft is the first system in the world able to detect damage with high accuracy even in partially filled sewer lines.

To reliably perform inspections and monitor condition and enable operators to fulfill their legal obligations, the damage detection system is equipped with the following sensor systems

  • a multi-camera system that detects cracks, corrosion and leaks above the water line and joint width
  • an ultrasonic scanner that detects mechanical wear, deposits and obstacles below the water line
  • video cameras that detect infiltration above the water line

Novel data processing and fusion facilitate optimal visualization of sensor data and damage and, when necessary, comparisons of current sensor data with prior measurements. To this end, all sensor data is exactly allocated to each location recorded in the sewer line and retrieved.

The system records the data while the damage detection system is in motion, displays the results of inspection to the operator and autonomously indicates spots in the sewer where damage is suspected.

The automatic inspection system (SEK) enables sewer operators to detect all relevant damage at an early stage and initiate appropriate action when necessary.


  • Reinforced concrete sewer pipes with diameters of DN 1600 to DN 2800
  • Minimum shaft openings of Ø 800 mm
  • Maximum distances of 650 m between shafts (other distances upon request)
  • Minimum fill levels of 450 mm