An ultrasonic profiling method for sewer inspection

Francisco Gomez, Kaspar Althoefer, Lakmal D. Seneviratne

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This paper presents a novel approach for the internal inspection of sewers through the use of sonar techniques, generating enhanced 3D graphs which represent the inner sewer surfaces. These graphs not only show the inner contour of the pipe but also integrate the intensity of the received echoes. The enhanced profile is generated by superimposing the peak intensity from the returning echoes at the calculated x, y and z coordinates where they are reflected from the pipe wall. These coordinates are calculated by measuring the time of flight of the first reflections, which are extracted from consecutives B-mode images generated during the ultrasonic scanning of the pipe. The proposed method has been capable of showing anomalous conditions, inside pipes filled with liquid, with dimensions smaller than the theoretical lateral and axial resolution of the transducer, in contrast to traditional methods where these kinds of defects were not detected. The proposed inspection method and its capabilities were validated through the realization of simulations and experiments. The simulations were conducted to validate the proposed method and explore its limitations. The proposed approach was particularly developed with the aim of scanning internal sections of sewers or water pipes filled with liquid using rotary ultrasonic sonars where visual methods could not be employed. It is expected that this research could also be expanded to the inspection of other submerged structures, such as water tanks, or pressurized vessels.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)4858-4863
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2004
EventProceedings- 2004 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation - New Orleans, LA, United States
Duration: 26 Apr 20041 May 2004


  • Assessment
  • Environment
  • Inspection
  • Sewers
  • Ultrasound


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