How Digital and Intelligent Solutions can Support the Life-Cycle Maintenance of Airport Pavement

Guest Author by Guest Author | Jun 21, 2022

By Zhongcheng Gui, Chairman, Shanghai Guimu Robot Co., Ltd., and Member, ACI EUROPE’s Technical, Operations, and Safety Committee

Aging pavement and the demand for a comprehensive inspection method

As air traffic demand continues to increase, aging pavement has appeared through different forms of internal and external decay such as sedimentation, cracking, subgrade moisture buildup, hollowing, and broken plates. The decay of pavement not only can affect operational safety, but also exists as a cost challenge for airport operators.

In the field of pavement health condition inspection, commonly used core sampling and visual evaluations are based on objective and experiential judgement. Poor data accuracy and low inspection coverage rates are common issues which lead to insufficient data for the assessment of overall pavement health conditions.

Obviously, a comprehensive pavement inspection solution is needed for the development of modern smart airports. A safe, intelligent, and sustainable airport needs periodical pavement inspection, which can provide early warnings of pavement health conditions to help decision-makers increase safety and avoid irreversible damage to the pavement. Guimu Robot solves the payment aging issue through a smart pavement inspection system, leading a new trend in airport pavement life-cycle maintenance.

A robot-based intelligent operation and maintenance solution

The Guimu Airport Pavement Health Inspection System consists of two parts: the Airport Pavement Health Inspection Robot and the Pavement Digital Management Software System (GM-DAS).

  • The Airport Pavement Health Inspection Robot: provides accurate and scientific data for pavement evaluations. Both the external and internal damage of pavement can be identified with key information such as type, severity, affected area, and location. The robot can be used to inspect the airport runway, taxiway, apron, and other pavement areas.

The key features of Guimu include:

  1. Autonomous positioning and navigation in the working area (positioning accuracy ≤5 cm)
  2. Automatic data collection through an industrial camera (resolution ≥1 mm)
  3. 3D penetrating radar (inspection depth 0-3 m)
  • GM-DAS – The Pavement Digital Management Software System: is the one-stop data processing platform of the Guimu Airport Pavement Health Inspection Robot. All collected data is uploaded to GM-DAS and processed by automatic recognition technology. The 3D visual restoration of the external and internal structure is generated to provide intuitive and visual results to different data users. The data processing results contain GIS data and image data (including areas, slabs, pavement features, pavement assets, etc.), as well as pavement structural data (including external and internal data, HWD, etc.).

The GM-DAS system creates a digital base for the whole life-cycle management of airport pavement. The interconnection of pavement assets data and pavement decay data help relevant operation teams record different stages of pavement construction and restoration, create optimal treatment plans for pavement decay, and receive live feedback in key inspection areas.

Case studies

With engineering applications in more than 60 airports and an accumulated inspection area of more than 20 million square meters, we would like to share two case studies of the Guimu Robot applications.

Cost efficient large and medium repairs of pavement at Xilinhot Airport, Inner Mongolia, China, 2021

The project was defined as a pavement inspection project for the reconstruction, expansion, and pavement of the flight area. Before construction work began, Guimu Robot collected pavement surface and structural data, and also analyzed for any external and internal decay. The GM-DAS platform processed all the collected data and provided maintenance suggestions together with relevant design units and experts in the civil aviation industry.

After completing the construction work, the airport pavement was remeasured by Guimu Robot and the new data results were compared with the previously collected decay data to get a clearer picture of the pavement situation, especially in key areas. The work done by Guimu greatly shortened the construction period and ensured its quality. This project saved 1.5 million Euro in maintenance costs for Xilinhot Airport.

Whole life-cycle management of airport pavement at Beijing Daxing International Airport, Beijing, China, 2019–present

Beijing Daxing International Airport is a new airport that began operations in 2019. It is also now the first airport in the world to implement the whole life-cycle management of pavement management for its 8 million square meter pavement area.

Guimu Robot collected the initial data of the pavements through autonomous positioning during the initial construction stage and established the basic database. Since the opening of the airport, Guimu Robot has compared the same pavement location regularly to achieve the digitalization of pavement operation and maintenance and help ensure the safe operation of the airport pavement.

Call for collaboration

As a complex public facility, airports are undergoing digital transformation at an unprecedented speed, from design to construction and to operation. With years of practical experience in civil aviation infrastructure maintenance, Guimu Robot Co., Ltd created the world’s first Airport Pavement Health Inspection System and leveraged advanced technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and big data. In the future, Guimu Robot will cooperate with more partners continually to promote the safe and healthy development of airport infrastructure. Guimu is willing to hear your voice and collaborate with global partners:  We welcome you to share your opinions and discuss with Guimu Robot.

As the chairman and founder of Shanghai Guimu Robot Co.,Ltd., Dr. Zhongcheng Gui has 20 years of experience in robot technology R&D as well as in enterprise administration. Zhongcheng has published over 30 academic literatures and created over 140 approved patents. Besides airport pavement health inspection robot, Dr. Gui also leads the development of drain pipe inspection robot, cableway-climbing robot, high-speed railway crane installation robot and crawling intelligent welding robot.

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