A Chinese-made robot capable of checking the safety of airport runway was recently deployed to Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy, marking a milestone for Chinese robotics technology in its quest to go global.
Chinese media reported that the robot, the size of an outdoor road sweeper, was developed by Guimu Robot (圭目机器人), a startup based in southwestern China’s Chengdu, in conjunction with Civil Aviation University of China.
The Fiumicino airport began to hold an innovation competition in March this year, inviting companies across the globe to upgrade the airport’s operations through cutting-edge technologies.
A bird’s eye-view of the Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy
The contest reportedly drew 500 contestants from more than 80 countries.
One of the winners that emerged through the ranks is Guimu Robot, whose product won the top prize for realizing unmanned, preventive care of the airport runway and tarmac.
A small and giant step forward
This is the first time that a civil aviation-related technology originally from China was applied in a large airport of a major European economy.
Upon being selected as the winner, Guimu Robot sent a team of engineers to Rome to carry out robot-led inspection and maintenance of the airport’s runway.
“The Rome trip is a small and giant step at once for Guimu,” said Gui Zhongcheng, president of the startup. “We also believe this is a significant step for homegrown Chinese civil aviation technologies to expand overseas.”
According to Guimu, its robot is able to scrutinize 15,000 sqm of airport runway per hour.
Besides, it can identify damages and safety hazards in the runway, with an accuracy down to centimeter.
As the robot moves around, it creates a 3D map that reconstructs the runway and its inner structure, paving the way for precise analytics of safety risks on and beneath the surface.
The final results are presented to airport management in the form of self-generated reports.
Compared to manned or semi-automatic inspection methods, Guimu’s robot-powered runway maintenance can considerably enhance efficiency and operational precision.
The company not just provides robotic inspectors for safety screening at airports. Instead, its offerings include a suite of autonomous vehicles that perform safety checks on vital infrastructure, such as bridge, road and railway.
The firm aims to lead a shift from manned maintenance to predictive, targeted upkeep of infrastructure projects.