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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W006235/1
Title: EPSRC-SFI: ROBOCONE: intelligent robotics for next generation ground investigation and design
Principal Investigator: Diambra, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Gourvenec, Professor S Conn, Dr A White, Professor DJ
Mylonakis, Professor G Cerfontaine, Dr B Ibraim, Professor E
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Fugro Ltd Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions Lloyd's Register Group
Norwegian Geotechnical Institute Orsted Otherlab Ireland Limited
Trinity College Dublin University of Bologna University of California Davis
University of Western Australia
Department: Civil Engineering
Organisation: University of Bristol
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 July 2022 Ends: 31 December 2025 Value (£): 1,203,430
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Ground Engineering Robotics & Autonomy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 Oct 2021 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 6 and 7 October 2021 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Geotechnical infrastructure fundamentally underpins the transport, energy and utility networks of our society. The design of this infrastructure faces increasing challenges related to construction in harsher or more complex environments and stricter operating conditions. Modern design approaches recognise that the strength and stiffness of ground, and therefore the safety and resilience of our infrastructure, changes through time under the exposure to in-service loading - whether from trains, traffic, waves, currents, seasonal moisture cycles, redevelopment of built structures or nearby construction in congested urban areas. However, advances in geotechnical analysis methods have not been matched by better tools to probe and test the ground in situ, in a way that represents realistic real-world loading conditions.

This research will improve current geotechnical site investigation practice by developing ROBOCONE - a new site investigation tool for intelligent ground characterisation - and its interpretative theoretical framework - from data to design. ROBOCONE will combine modern technologies in robotic control and sensor miniaturisation with new theoretical analyses of soil-structure interaction. Breaking free from the kinematic constraints of conventional site investigation tools, ROBOCONE will feature three modular sections which can be remotely actuated and controlled to impose horizontal, vertical and torsional kinematic mechanisms in the ground closely mimicking loading and deformation histories experienced during the entire lifespan of a geotechnical infrastructure. The device development will be supported by new theoretical approaches to interpret ROBOCONE's data to provide objective and reliable geotechnical parameters, ready for use in the modern "whole-life" design of infrastructure.

This research will provide a paradigm shift in equipment for in situ ground characterisation. ROBOCONE will enable the cost-effective and reliable characterisation of advanced soil properties and their changes with time directly in-situ, minimising the need for costly and time-consuming laboratory investigations, which are invariably affected by sampling and testing limitations. Geotechnical in-situ characterisation will be brought into step with modern, resilient and optimised geotechnical design approaches.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.bris.ac.uk