Loughborough University
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A robotic vehicle system for operation with gas pipelines

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posted on 2022-06-09, 12:45 authored by Jiun Keat Ong

The research presented in this dissertation considers the design, implementation and validation of a robotic system applied in constrained gas pipe environments. The dissertation describes a robotic vehicle system with optimised mechanical parts and dimensions, combined with intelligent control strategy, and a cableless communication feature for performance enhancements. The implemented enhancements increase the ability of the robotic system to perform self-navigation and movement in the pipes.

The research has focused on solving the navigation problem in pipe configurations. This goal is addressed by using reactive sensors with an advanced fuzzy control technique. In pipe environments, an ‘a priori ’ plan cannot be generated to perform reasonably in the face of uncertainty, nor can all contingencies that may arise be anticipated. Instead, navigation must be carried out based on current information and the system’s own states at all times, proceeding in a sensor-driven manner, rather than attempting to impose the execution of a planned method. In addition, the dynamics of the vehicle itself often play an important role in determining which actions may be achieved and which actions are to be avoided. The research identifies an unique fuzzy inference technique that combines information from several different sources to be used to perform the navigation task.

A careful evaluation of current state-of-the-art systems revealed the inadequacy of using a cable for data link and power supply purposes. Cable is one of the restrictions that limits the operation of an in-pipe operation device, due to handling problems. A selection of cable-free methods has been examined in this dissertation to offer solution in the aspect of communication. An optical method using a laser is determined to be an appropriate approach, and further experimental studies verify its feasibility.

The combination of the mentioned abilities has enabled the realisation of a novel robotic system for pipeline operation. Its aim is to increase pipe operation efficiency. The research provides essential groundwork and opens up many areas of interesting research in using robotic systems for gas pipe operation. A series of suggestions for farther work are proposed at the end of the thesis. Despite the specific nature of the chosen application, the underlying ideas and methods have application to a broad range of industries, such as water and sewerage, as well as pipeline networks in power plants.


BG Asia Pacific plc

Loughborough University



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


Loughborough University

Rights holder

© Jiun Keat Ong

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

EThOS Persistent ID



  • en


David Kerr ; Kaddour Bouazza-Marouf

Qualification name

  • PhD

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

This submission includes a signed certificate in addition to the thesis file(s)

  • I have submitted a signed certificate