Robot safety inspector on guard against car accident in S. China highway tunnel

The robot can guide itself to the cableless charging station installed at the entrance to the tunnel to be charged, making it possible for it to work around the clock.

Inter-provincial highway operators in southern China’s Guangdong deployed in-tunnel inspection robots to ensure traffic safety during the eight-day Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday this year.

At the Matoutang tunnel section of the Guanghe Highway connecting Guangzhou and Hezhou of neighboring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, a robot glides along rails on the tunnel walls, panning its cameras toward the motorized traffic 5.5m below.

Meteorological reports predicted muggy heat and rainy days in the western part of Guangdong, which borders Guangxi, during the weeklong holiday starting September 29.

The weather conditions could put cars on inter-provincial highways at higher risk of vehicle fire, punctured tire and other accidents, the reports said.

The robot, with built-in high-resolution cameras, PA system, infrared imaging device, thermal and gas sensors, monitors the cars passing through the tunnel to collect data like the temperature of their surfaces.

In the case of an overheating car, breakdown or traffic accident, the robot inspector will capture and archive footage of the scene and transmit them, along with data such as sound and temperature, in real-time to the traffic command center.

After the center analyzes the data, it feeds them to electronic display boards or PA systems within the tunnel to flash a warning message. What’s more, heads-up notifications will also be sent to motorists’ in-car navigation apps, alerting them to possible road risks.

The robot can guide itself to the cableless charging station installed at the entrance to the tunnel to be charged, making it possible for it to work around the clock.

“Once the robot issues a warning, safety personnel will take steps accordingly. The whole process lasts only one minute,” said Su Weiling, director of Guanghe Highway Monitoring Center, which manages the highway, including the tunnel.

“For abnormal incidents, the robot inspector has an accuracy rate of 95%, considerably improving the efficiency of tunnel safety inspection.”

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at

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