Infrastructure & Construction
The Silvertown Tunnel in East London, stands as a groundbreaking infrastructure project. Its design encompasses a 1.4-kilometer twin-bore road tunnel beneath the Thames River, complemented by 0.6 kilometers of access ramps.
This dual-bore road tunnel is set to link the Royal Docks' Tidal Basin with the Greenwich Peninsula's Blackwall Tunnel approach on the southern side. A pivotal element of the tunnel's purpose is to enhance public transport connectivity between the two riverbanks.
TfL (Transport for London) entrusted Riverlinx SPV with the contract to fund, oversee the design, construction, and upkeep of the Silvertown Tunnel. Riverlinx CJV forms a collaborative effort, uniting the global proficiencies of three leading civil engineering and construction firms: Ferrovial Construction, BAM Nuttall, and SK Ecoplant.
Riverlinx Ltd is a company comprising Cintra, Aberdeen Standard Investments, BAM PPP, Macquarie Capital and SK E&C, which has entered into a PPP Contract with Transport for London (TfL). Ferrovial Construction engaged Epitomical to explore the potential incorporation of 5G and Autonomous Vehicle technologies, enhancing the project's capabilities.
The catchment area of the new Silvertown Tunnel is expected to see a projected population increase of 650,000 people and see an estimated 286,000 new jobs created by 2036.
The new infrastructure will serve as an alternative to the Blackwall Tunnel, improving traffic flows not only under the River Thames but also in the approaches between Docklands / East London and Southeast London. Currently, an estimated one million hours are wasted each year queuing for the Blackwall tunnel. For those people directly affected this has an economic cost of £10 million every year.
The project team were interested in understanding how they could leverage their private 5G network together with Autonomous Systems in and around the project site. It was envisaged that these systems could benefit this and other projects in the following areas.
- Health & Safety – minimise risk to workers especially around dull and dangerous tasks.
- Specialist Skills – provide remote access to planning and inspection specialists and minimise the potential for skills lost over time as more activities become automated.
- Task Specific – identify specific opportunities for automation such as loading, painting, bulldozing and site transport.
- Operational Efficiency – improve speed, availability and time of operation using data and AI
- Labour shortage – offer alternatives to repetitive tasks using intelligent autonomous or semi-autonomous machines.
Technology & Use Cases
The trials targeted Connected and Autonomous Plant (CAP) as the focus area. The trials were planned to be conducted in phases, covering the following use cases.
The objective of this use case was to demonstrate the use of the Private 5G Network across the project site. It included setting up a control room linked to the 5G network from which remote operations of vehicles could be undertaken. The project used the Epitomical Autorover to trial teleoperations over the 5G network. This formed the basis for other use cases covered and demonstrated additional use case that could leverage this technology, such as site mapping, security monitoring and offering remote access & control to specialists to conduct specific tasks.
On-Demand Delivery of Site Tools
Construction site theft is big business, estimates of the cost of theft of construction equipment vary but are certainly in the hundreds of millions of pounds, globally, every year. Targets of theft range from lumber and scrap metal, to high-dollar excavators, tools and cranes. Further to the Teleoperation use case, this use case was intended to demonstrate a combination of teleoperations and complete autonomous operations of the AutoRover within the project site to deliver and collect (thus also track) high value site tools. This use case enables multiple benefits including Increased productivity, streamline processes and empower staff by automating manual material movement or improving fulfillment picking.
Automated Lux Measurement
CIBSE, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, acts as a professional body for lighting in the UK and produces a series of guides giving optimum lighting requirements for a wide range of environments. Recommendations for lighting vary by type of site (e.g. commercial buildings, sports venues) to within a site (e.g. office space, parking bays). As such, construction companies are required to comply with lighting requirements, where the measurement of lighting (measured in Lux), is currently done manually, on a per square meter basis. The project aimed to use the AutoRover platform using 5G to automate this task, reducing costs as well as ensuring accurate readings were taken and reported, at various stages of the project. The use case can be extended to incorporate additional HSE requirements to measure vibration, thermal comfort, working space and noise.
On Demand Tools Delivery
Ferrovial Stack - Teleoperation
Trial Architecture - Teleoperation