HYbrid FLying-rollIng with-snakE-aRm robot for contact inSpection

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HYFLIERS project logo

News and Events

20-22 Mar 2019

HYFLIERS present at the European Robotics Forum (ERF2019), in Bucharest, Romania.

logo of the European Robotics Forum

13-15 Oct 2018

HYFLIERS at the Maker Faire Rome 2018, in Rome, Italy.

logo of the HYFLIERS project

13-15 Mar 2018

HYFLIERS present at the European Robotics Forum (ERF2018), in Tampere, Finland.

logo of the European Robotics Forum

10-11 Jan 2018

The project had its kick-off meeting in Oulu, Finland.

Picture of Oulu in winter: Photograph taken from Tuira, foreground with trees and snow on the ground, background with the city and the cathedral on the left


HYFLIERS (HYbrid FLying-rollIng with-snakE-aRm robot for contact inSpection) is a research and innovation action of EU Horizon 2020 programme for advanced robot capabilities research and take-up, worth 3,9 million euro funding. HYFLIERS, running from 2018 to 2021, will develop the world's first industrial integrated robot with hybrid air and ground mobility with a long-reach hyper-redundant manipulator capable of reaching sites where no other robot can access, reducing the exposition of human inspectors to potentially dangerous working conditions. Targeting ultrasonic thickness measurements for oil and gas refineries and chemical plants, the results could be applied to many other robotic inspection technologies.

Use Case: Inspection Measurements

Image of an example petrochemical processing plant showing a lot of pipes, also at height. Grangemouth, Scotland. Creative Commons (CC). Source: pxhere.com
An example petrochemical processing plant. Grangemouth, Scotland. CC Public Domain. Source: pxhere.com.

In oil and gas production plants, all or part of the components are often subject to degradation caused by exposure to the environment or products within the production process. Excessive pipe corrosion may lead to accidents, including catastrophic failures with explosions and release of toxic products, thus having impact on safety, environment and availability of the plant. Inspection processes for thickness measurements ensure that plants are in safe operating condition or provide alerts to execute necessary corrective actions. These measurements are traditionally executed by personnel that requires access to specific locations. Typically, more than 50% (and up to 90%) of these activities are carried out by working at elevated locations with the use of ladders, scaffold, rope access or cranes, and sometimes in presence of high temperatures or toxic materials. Obviously, this causes considerable costs for ensuring safety of inspection personnel but in some cases, casualties may occur. Moreover, anxiety and exposure to dangerous locations affects concentration and promote human errors.

There are safety, quality and cost drivers for novel inspection methods.

Top Objective and Approach

Problem: Manned inspection of pipes causes higher operating expenditures (OpEx) and higher probability of injuries. HYFLIERS targeted innovations: Semi-automated pipe inspection to have lower OpEx and aiming at zero injuries

The top objective is to reduce inspection costs and improve safety by exploiting a robotic inspection system. The technology results will be validated in the inspection of pipes, which is a very relevant short-term application, but the results of the project could be also applied to other industrial scenarios, such as power generation plants.

HYFLIERS sytem: hybrid robot including hybrid vehicle, arm and sensor; portable control unit in the hands on the inspection operator; a mobile support robotic platform interacting with the above elements and the fixed plant centre

HYFLIERS will address the above objectives by studying, designing, developing and testing a robotic system including prototypes for the first worldwide hybrid aerial/ground robot with a hyperredundant lightweight robotic articulated arm equipped with an inspection sensing sub-system and a ground support unit for efficient and safe inspection in industrial sites. The robot will be equipped with interfaces for teleoperation, but it will also possess automatic collision detection and avoidance. This will ensure accurate positioning, guidance, landing and rolling on constrained surfaces, such as pipes. The control system also integrating environment perception and aerodynamic control will moreover include a mission planning system to optimise the use of the robot in the inspection and therefore bringing energy savings.

Prototype A: Hybrid Mobile Robot

HMR with propellers open
the HMR with propellers retracted

With the HMR prototype, the hybrid robot moves itself to bring the sensor to the inspection site.

The HMR has tilted propellers for improved manoeuvrability plus assisting stability on the pipe (lateral thrust).

HMR with propellers openThe HMR exploits magnetic attraction for stability on the pipe, and realises magnetic force modulation (varying air gap) for landing/take-off.

Prototype B: Hybrid Robot with Arm

the HRA inspecting at 6:00 hours position
the HRA stabilising itself

With the HRA prototype, the arm brings the sensor on its end effector to the inspection site, but the vehicle can also crawl over the pipe. Stability of the HRA on pipe is achieved by propeller tilting and by moving the system's centre of gravity (also including batteries displacement).

Operation Support System

The operation support system includes a mobile platform for navigation support, battery recharge and couplant refill, also supporting data communication and processing.


The consortium is composed of eight partners from five countries (Finland, Spain, Italy, France and Switzerland), including high reputation universities, research institutes, industrial partners with research and innovation development capabilities, and two world leading oil and gas industrial companies.

logo UOULU

University of Oulu




logo USE

University of Seville




logo Chevron Oronite

Chevron Oronite



logo Total





Consorzio CREATE








logo GEIR, top part logo GEIR, bottom part

General Electric Inspection Robotics



logo DASEL

Dasel sistemas





Public Deliverables

D8.1 Röning J, ed.; Röning J, Celentano U (2018) Project presentation. Project Deliverable D8.1 (R, PU). 31 Jan. 7 pp.
D7.1 Ollero A, ed.; Celentano U, Röning J, et al. (2018) HYFLIERS project website. Project Deliverable D7.1 (R, PU). 31 Mar. 11 pp.
D7.2 Ollero A, Zesch W, Celentano U, eds.; Röning J, Celentano U, Pitkänen V, Heredia G, Brown R, Corbineau S, Lippiello V, Viguria A, Zesch W (2018) HYFLIERS dissemination and exploitation plan. Project Deliverable D7.2 (R, PU). 31 Mar. 16 pp.
D8.2 Röning J, ed.; Celentano U (2018) Data management plan. Project Deliverable D8.2 (R, PU). 29 Jun. 9 pp.
D2.1 Ollero A, ed. (2019) Project Deliverable D2.1 (R, PU). Jun.
D3.1 Lippiello V, ed. (2019) Project Deliverable D3.1 (R, PU). Jun.
D4.1 Celentano U, ed. (2019) Project Deliverable D4.1 (R, PU). Jun.
D7.3 Kydd K, Ollero A, Celentano U, eds., Röning J, Celentano U, Ollero A, Heredia G, Brown R, Corbineau S, Lippiello V, Viguria Jiménez A, Alarcón F, Schmid R, Giacchetta R (2019) HYFLIERS Dissemination and Exploitation Report P1. H2020-ICT-25-2016-2017 779411 HYFLIERS Project Deliverable D7.3 (PU). Jun.

Articles and presentations

Röning J (2018) Hybrid flying-rolling with snake arm robot for oil and gas plant inspection: The HYFLIERS H2020 project. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Workshop on Aerial Robotic Inspection and Maintenance: Research Challenges, Field Experience and Industry Needs. 25 May, Brisbane, Australia.
Brown R, Röning J (2018) HYFLIERS: UT inspections at height in congested pipe racks. SPRINT Robotics, World Conference for Inspection and Maintenance Robotics. 13-14 Nov, Galveston, Texas, USA.
Yu Y, Lippiello V (2019) 6D pose task trajectory tracking for a class of 3D aerial manipulator from differential flatness. IEEE Access vol. 7, Apr. pdf
Ruggiero F, Lippiello V, Ollero A (2018) Aerial manipulation: A literature review. IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 3 no. 3, Jul. pdf
Caballero A, Bejar M, Ollero A (2018) On the use of velocity adaptation to outperform the motion planning with dynamics awareness in aerial long-reach manipulators with two arms. International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (ICUAS), pp. 1125–1133.
Ramon-Soria P, Gomez-Tamm AE, Garcia-Rubiales FJ, Arrue BC, Ollero A (2019) Autonomous landing on pipes using soft gripper for inspection and maintenance in outdoor environments. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Nov, Macao, China. pdf
Sanchez-Cuevas PJ, Martín V, Heredia G, Ollero A (2019) Multirotor aerodynamic effects close to obstacles: Modelling and mapping. ROBOT Iberian Robotics Conference, Nov, Porto, Portugal. pdf
Nekoo SR, Acosta JA, Ollero A (2019) Fully coupled six-DoF nonlinear suboptimal control of a quadrotor: Variable-pitch rotor design. ROBOT Iberian Robotics Conference, Nov, Porto, Portugal. pdf
Ramon-Soria P, Arrue BC, Ollero A (2019) A 3D-printable docking system for aerial robots: Controlling aerial robotic manipulators in outdoor industrial applications. IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 44-53 March. pdf

Other dissemination

Röning J, Ollero A (2018) ``Flying robot gets wheels and arm''. Interview by Mikkola A, Finnish newspaper Kaleva (in Finnish). 11 Jan.
Röning J, et al. (2018) Presentation of HYFLIERS project. European Robotics Forum (ERF 2018). Tampere, Finland. 13-15 Mar.
Lippiello V (2018) HYFLIERS: HYbrid FLying-rollIng with-snakE-aRm robot for contact inSpection. Maker Faire Rome, 12-14 Oct, Rome, Italy.
Lippiello V, Röning J (2018) Drones beyond the hobby. Maker Faire Rome, 13 Oct, Rome, Italy.
Brown R, Röning J (2019) Hyfliers – UT inspections at height in congested pipe racks​. European Robotics Forum (ERF), Aerial Robotics Technologies and Applications. 20-22 March, Bucharest, Romania.


Prof. Juha Röning

Project Coordinator

Dr. Ulrico Celentano

Technical Coordinator