Intelligent Issue 05 | Page 60




In this interview , we speak to Steve Jordan , Co-founder of hyperTunnel , who delves into the innovative technology behind the company that aims to revolutionise the underground construction industry . Jordan shares insights into their approach , the environmental benefits and their ambitious vision for the future .
What are the key innovations your company is introducing to the underground construction industry ?
We ’ re a company revolutionising underground construction for ambitious projects like tidal range energy . Current equipment is slow , costly and disruptive , prompting a rethink . Drawing inspiration from Sir Frank Whittle ’ s jet engine innovation , we aim to transform the underground construction industry .
We are primarily a technology company , not a tunnelling firm . Our partner handles on-site operations , stakeholder management and site setup . We provide specialised technology to replace conventional processes . Our robots are mobile and capable of self-transport , offering a highly productive and distinct approach to underground construction .
We envisage a different approach : swarms of specialised robots working in unison . By deploying thousands of these robots within a grid , we achieve simultaneous construction , multiplying their effectiveness .
To give you an example , one ‘ Deploy Bot ,’ can treat geology quickly and repeatedly , resulting in a cubic metre of improved ground daily . With 5,000 robots , we can make 5,000 cubic metres . Our method reduces disruption and costs dramatically , providing an innovative solution for underground construction .
Our technology , known as HyperCast , further enhances this approach . It borrows from robotic surgery and leverages a continuum of robotic techniques to create chambers and cast building blocks , revolutionising the construction process .
How does hyperTunnel ’ s technology specifically minimise disruption to wildlife and their habitats during underground construction projects ?
The benefits of the hyperTunnel process are multifaceted , with a strong focus on environmental conservation and resource efficiency . This innovative approach significantly reduces the construction footprint compared to traditional methods .
Firstly , unlike colossal construction sites , the hyperTunnel process minimises the environmental impact by utilising a fraction of the space . This means less disruption to wildlife habitats and natural landscapes .
Moreover , the way structures are cast in the ground offers several environmental advantages . Traditional structures require reinforcement , like rebar , to withstand transportation to the construction site . However , hyperTunnel constructs structures in place , ensuring they are only subjected to compression forces . This eliminates the need for resourceintensive reinforcement materials and results in thinner concrete structures , using fewer resources .
Traditional drilling machines use slurry to liquefy the ground , requiring a complex cleanup process . In contrast , the hyperTunnel process generates geology that can be readily repurposed , such as for land improvement or reclamation . This reduces the environmental impact and eliminates the need for extensive chemical treatment .
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