Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Safe, underground, pipe and cable installation using trenchless drilling

An EU supported project has developed a radar module for under-street trenchless drilling systems. The team developed and tested a prototype system that detects, and avoids, underground obstacles, almost completing the innovation to commercial readiness.
Safe, underground, pipe and cable installation using trenchless drilling
Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) is a means of installing underground pipes and cables without digging trenches. The method offers numerous advantages over traditional approaches, but requires care, when used in urban areas, because of the risk of damage to existing buried infrastructure due to utilities maps being often incomplete and inaccurate.

The EU co-funded ORFEUS (Operational Radar For Every drill string Under the Street) project developed a radar-based drill tip buried object locator for HDD equipment. The system extends that developed by a Sixth Framework Programme (FP-6) project having the same name. The new project refined the original concept to, almost, commercial readiness.

Results include a radar system able to detect underground obstacles, which extends the range of use of HDD to a wider range of urban situations. The prototype was extensively field-tested at three European locations. These trials confirmed the system's operational characteristics and evaluated its performance against the user defined requirements.

The system achieved a commercial readiness rating of level seven, and is ready for final optimisation. The group also developed a comprehensive exploitation strategy, and cooperated with DIN to produce a Publicly Available Standard for HDD technology, published in 2015.

ORFEUS' successful development of the HDD radar concept offers substantial opportunities for profit in worldwide sectors, including Europe and the United States. Such technology allows the numerous environmental, technical advantages and lower costs of HDD, compared to standard trench-based systems, to be realised in an extended range of urban applications.

Related information


Underground drilling, radar, drill tip radar, underground obstacle detection, underground obstacle avoidance, horizontal directional drilling, ORFEUS, drill rod communications
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