Underwater Tunnel Inspection


The Exelon Clearsight team adapted to perform a unique robotic inspection of an underwater tunnel.

An existing customer reached out to us with a unique challenge: they were looking at opportunities to improve the inspection process for a transmission tunnel 120 feet underground. The tunnel runs underwater and is accessible via two entrances on each side of the river.

The inspection normally takes one week for an on-foot team to complete. Confined spaces such as these are deep underground, require PPE including a respiration apparatus, and pose numerous safety risks to personnel. Our goals: reduce or eliminate the safety risk, decrease required time and resources, reduce cost, and improve the quality of inspection data.

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Exelon Clearsight’s operations team used a crawler to navigate the piping system while keeping human personnel safely above ground.

Rovver X Crawler

The optimal technology selected for the mission was the Rovver X crawler. Due to its unique nature, the Rovver X could safely be lowered down to the entrance and could easily maneuver in the tunnel. The larger carriage allowed for a higher point of view while maintaining enough traction to traverse the muddy environment. The zoom camera also eliminated the need to enter the tunnel from each side.

To prepare for this unique mission, operators completed Fall Protection training. Usually, our team uses robotics to eliminate safety risks at heights, but our team adapted to safely climb down a 120-foot drop to the entrance of the tunnel.

This point in time visual record of the tunnel’s equipment and infrastructure will help our client plan for maintenance. We identified one immediate issue and documented the condition and location to ensure maintenance could find and resolve it as easily as possible.

The full inspection was completed in one day with two operators, four days less than the traditional method. Data analysis and reporting took approximately 4 more hours. No operators entered the tunnel, avoiding new or unknown risks. They safely remained outside the entrance while the crawler navigated and captured all data with zero incidents.

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