hyperTunnel unveils an underground structure built entirely by Bobots

hyperTunnel, the UK’s innovative underground construction technology company, has unveiled the world’s first fully robotic underground structure, built at the company’s R&D facilities in the North Hampshire Downs.

hyperTunnel, the UK’s innovative underground construction technology company, has unveiled the world’s first fully robotic underground structure, built at its R&D center in the North Hampshire Downs.

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hyperTunnel’s all-new automated construction method is designed to build tunnels more than 10 times faster and at half the cost of conventional methods. The approach is significantly more environmentally friendly and will use sustainable materials such as low carbon concrete. With no human needing to enter the structure during construction, the hyperTunnel method could transform safety in the tunnel industry.

Using swarm construction methods according to a digital twin of the tunnel, a fleet of “hyperBot” robots enter the ground via an arch of HDPE pipes. Once inside, the robots 3D print the tunnel envelope by deploying building materials directly into the ground. The 6m long, 2m high and 2m wide Peak XV pedestrian ladder tunnel was delivered as part of a project for Network Rail and unveiled at the British Tunneling Society conference and exhibition in London (October 11-12).

The Network Rail project demonstrated the hyperTunnel process, investigating the technologies that are essential to low-disruption tunnel repairs for the UK’s regional rail infrastructure, which includes around 650 Victorian-era tunnels.

David Castlo, Network Technical Manager (Mining & Tunnels) at Network Rail, said: “Our extensive portfolio of Victorian tunnels requires increasing levels of work to meet the needs of the rail network. However, we want to reduce the level of disruption to our passengers, so we are constantly researching new approaches to expanding or repairing tunnels that reduce the length of time a tunnel will be closed to trains. Peak XV brings us a little closer to this objective and, above all, with a method that reduces the risks for the safety of the workforce.

Steve Jordan, co-CEO and co-founder of hyperTunnel, said: “Unveiling our first full-scale demonstration tunnel is a significant milestone, not only for hyperTunnel, but also for the tunneling and construction industries that await looking forward to preparing our approach. for use, as appropriate, in their global projects. Although the exclusive use of robots to build underground structures is radically different, contributing technologies, such as digital twins, robotics, 3D printing and underground digital surveying, supported by AI and virtual reality , have all been proven in other industries. In fact, the hyperTunnel in situ method is all about reducing the risks of construction projects. »

Earlier this year, hyperTunnel received €1.88 million in funding from the European Innovation Council (EIC) Acceleration Programme, Europe’s flagship innovation programme. The company also benefited from financial investment from VINCI, a world leader in concessions, energy and construction.

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