Damage Prevention for underground utilities using machine guidance

Waqas Arshad Tanoli, Abubakar Sharafat, Jaemin Park, Jong Won Seo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


More than half of the world's population resides in urban areas, which has resulted in increased demand for utility services. Properly designed and well-managed utility infrastructure systems play an important role in the sustainability of cities. The complexity of underground utilities is highly problematic, as it has many types of service lines comprised of different materials. Damage to underground utilities during excavation is a serious problem that can result in casualties, injuries, project delays, disruptions in costly services, and large repair costs. Missing depth information, inaccurate available utility position data, and lack of visual guidance for utility locations have been identified as the major reasons for utility strikes during excavation operations. These accidents can be prevented if the machine operator is aware of the utility location with reference to the equipment position. In this paper, a novel approach is presented to model underground utilities for a machine guidance system to provide visual guidance to the operator. This approach is useful for avoiding catastrophic utility strike accidents and promoting safe excavation operations. Two case studies were conducted for reviewing the proposed methodology and its application in the machine guidance system. The underground utility data was collected by using GPR in combination with a highly accurate RTK GPS system. An uncertainty buffer zone is proposed that enclosed the true location of the utility as an extra safety measure to avoid a utility strike during excavation. The objective of this research is to devise a simple and easy process to model the underground utilities for a machine guidance system to promote safe excavation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102893
JournalAutomation in Construction
StatePublished - 2019 Nov



  • Accident Prevention
  • Excavation
  • Machine guidance
  • Underground utilities

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