Quantcast

UVA Professor, Students Use Robot to Help Restore Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel

Posted: Updated:
Handbuilt robot Handbuilt robot
UVA students are helping to map out a tunnel UVA students are helping to map out a tunnel
The robot uses a laser to map out the tunnel The robot uses a laser to map out the tunnel
The tunnel in Crozet, as mapped by the robot The tunnel in Crozet, as mapped by the robot
CROZET, Va. (WVIR) -

A University of Virginia professor and his students are aiding in the restoration of the historic Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel by mapping it through the eyes of a hand built robot.

The tunnel is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains at Rockfish Gap. The eastern entrance is in Afton and the western entrance is in Augusta County.

The Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel Foundation is restoring the tunnel into a community landmark, but the passage is long and dark so it’s hard to see what’s really inside. That’s where UVA professor Nicola Bezzo and his students come in.

Bezzo is a professor of systems and information engineering. He and his students brought their robot to the tunnel to laser scan the walls, which does so by using light and sound that bounces from the ceiling and floors.

Bezzo says the tunnel environment was difficult to navigate since it hasn’t been touched in several years. The robot typically travels two miles per hour, but it took 30 minutes to map half of a mile of the tunnel. 

"It's a lot of water inside,” says professor Nicola Bezzo. “It's very rocky. There's water falling from the ceiling of the tunnel. It's very dark. It's not very easy to access."

Bezzo's students say they worked with a technology firm called Leidos for additional scanning materials and to make sure their robot was getting correct information.

The foundation says the tunnel will open to the public in 2019 once restoration is finished.