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1. WO2020109603 - APPAREIL DE MAINTENANCE DE PISTE

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]

CLAIMS

1. An aerodrome maintenance apparatus for monitoring runway and taxiway conditions and remotely reporting the status of the runway or taxiway, the apparatus comprising:

a drive unit operable to provide self-controlled rolling movement of the apparatus along a surface of a runway or taxiway of the aerodrome;

a detection unit comprising one or more sensors configured to detect one or more parameters of the surface; and

a communications unit comprising a transceiver arranged to transfer data derived from the detection unit from the apparatus to a remote server, wherein the apparatus is arranged, in use, to move along the surface and transfer data representative of one or more parameters of the surface to a remote server.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the drive unit comprises a plurality of independently steerable drive wheels powered by one or more motors.

3. An apparatus according to any of claims 1 and 2 wherein the detection unit further comprises a terrain sensor operable to scan and detect terrain surrounding the apparatus.

4. An apparatus according to claim 3 wherein the terrain sensor comprises a LIDAR module arranged to scan and detect the surroundings of the apparatus, and output data representative of the surroundings of the apparatus.

5. An apparatus according to any of claims 3 and 4 wherein the drive unit is arranged to use data derived from the terrain sensor to navigate and autonomously effect movement of the apparatus on the surface.

6. An apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein the transceiver of the communications unit is operable to receive instruction information from a remote server, and the communications unit is arranged, in use, to communicate the instruction information to one or more of the drive unit and the detection unit.

7. An apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein the one or more sensors of the detection unit comprises a friction meter arranged to measure and output data representative of a friction level of the surface.

8. An apparatus according to claim 7 wherein the friction meter comprises a friction measurement wheel arranged, in use, to be in contact with the surface.

9. An apparatus according to claim 8 wherein one or more of the drive wheels of the drive unit are used as a friction measurement wheel of the detection unit.

10. An apparatus according to any of claims 7 to 9 wherein the friction meter comprises an optical module arranged to provide a measurement of the runway surface friction, preferably wherein the optical module comprises an infrared source.

11. An apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein the one or more sensors of the detection unit comprises an FOD sensor arranged, in use, to detect the presence of foreign object debris, FOD, on the surface.

12. An apparatus according to claim 1 1 wherein the FOD sensor comprises one or more sensors selected from the group comprising: an x-ray sensor, a visible light sensor and a metal detection sensor.

13. An apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein the detection unit comprises a transmissometer operable to measure an ambient attenuation of light and output data representative of runway visibility.

14. An apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein the detection unit comprises a fire detector having an infrared sensor arranged, in use, to monitor ambient thermal radiation and detect fires.

15. An apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein the detection unit comprises a runway light detector, arranged to detect the presence of runway lights and check the proper functioning of lights on the runway.

16. An apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein the detection unit comprises an infrared thermal sensor for detecting the surface temperature of the runway surface.

17. An apparatus according to any preceding claim, wherein the drive unit is arranged, in use, to autonomously effect movement of the apparatus based on data derived from the detection unit.

18. An apparatus according to any preceding claim further comprising:

a maintenance unit arranged, in use, to perform maintenance operations on the surface.

19. An apparatus according to claim 18 wherein the maintenance unit comprises a rubber removal module arranged, in use, to remove rubber from the surface.

20. An apparatus according to claim 19 wherein the rubber removal module comprises one or more of:

a high-pressure water module comprising a water storage tank and a high-pressure nozzle operable to output a jet of high pressure water to the surface;

a chemical removal module comprising a chemical storage tank and a chemical applicator operable to apply a removal chemical into the surface;

an impactor arranged, in use, to blast high-velocity abrasive particles at the surface; and

a mechanical remover comprising a cutter arranged, in use, to mill a layer from the surface.

21. An apparatus according to any of claims 19 and 20 wherein the rubber removal module is arranged to conduct removal of rubber from the surface according to a measured surface friction level from the detection unit.

22. An apparatus according to any of claims 18 to 21 wherein the maintenance unit further comprises a storage tank; and

a high-powered suction module operable to provide suction to collect debris from the surface into the storage tank.

23. An apparatus according to any of claims 18 to 22 wherein the maintenance unit is arranged to conduct removal of rubber or collection of debris from the surface according to data derived from an FOD sensor in the detection unit.

24. An apparatus according to any of claims 18 to 23 wherein the maintenance unit further comprises a wildlife repeller arranged, in use, to repel wildlife proximal to the surface, the repeller comprising one or more of:

a laser source operable to emit a laser light;

a speaker operable to emit a high-frequency sound; and

a spray nozzle operable to output a spray of wildlife repelling chemicals.

25. An apparatus according to claim 24 wherein the laser source of the maintenance unit is also operable as a laser source of a transmissometer operable to measure an ambient attenuation of light and output data representative of runway visibility.

26. An apparatus according to any of claims 18 to 25 wherein the maintenance unit further comprises a fire extinguisher, comprising an extinguishing agent tank and an extinguisher nozzle, operable to controllably release an extinguishing agent from the extinguishing agent tank.

27. An apparatus according to claim 26 wherein the fire extinguisher is arranged to actuate the release of extinguishing agent from the extinguishing agent tank according to data derived from an infrared sensor in the detection unit.

28. An apparatus according to any preceding claim further comprising:

a power unit having a rechargeable power source;

a solar panel module, arranged to harvest solar energy and provide, in use, charge to the power source.

29. An apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein a surface of the apparatus is provided with one or more interface parts for mounting components onto the apparatus.

30. An apparatus according to claim 29 wherein at least a portion of the detection unit is removably attached to the apparatus via the one or more interface parts.

31. An apparatus according to any one of claims 29 and 30 wherein the interface parts comprises one or more rails which allow components to be mounted to the apparatus by sliding action.

32. An apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein the detection unit is arranged such that each time a measurement is taken by the sensors location data is recorded so as to link each measurement with the location of the apparatus.

33. An apparatus according to claim 32 wherein an on-board processor is arranged to receive data from the detection unit and map each measurement to a map of the runway.

34. A system for monitoring and maintaining runway and taxiway conditions, comprising:

an apparatus according to any preceding claim; and

a remote server arranged, in use, to transfer data to and from the communications module of the apparatus, via a wired or wireless connection.

35. A system according to claim 34 further comprising a docking station, the docking station being arranged, in use, to receive the apparatus within its volume.

36. A system according to claim 35 wherein the docking station is operable to provide electrical power to the apparatus.

37. A method of monitoring aerodrome runway and taxiway conditions comprising the steps of:

deploying an apparatus according to any of claims 1 to 33 to a runway or taxiway;

collecting runway condition data through the detection unit of the apparatus; and

transferring data derived from the detection unit to a remote server, where the data can be processed and displayed.

38. A method according to claim 37 wherein the step of deploying the apparatus comprises remotely controlling the apparatus by transmitting instructions from a remote server to the communications unit of the apparatus.

39. A method according to any of claims 37 and 38 wherein the step of deploying the apparatus comprises the apparatus autonomously navigating the surface.