AbstractGround penetrating radar (GPR) is a very useful nondestructive evaluation (NDE) device for locating and mapping underground assets prior to digging and trenching efforts in construction. This paper presents a novel robotic system to automate the GPR data-collection process, localize underground utilities, and interpret and reconstruct the underground objects for better visualization, allowing regular nonprofessional users to understand the survey results. This system is composed of three modules: (1) an omnidirectional robotic data-collection platform that carries a RGB-D camera with inertial measurement unit (IMU) and a GPR antenna to perform automatic GPR data collection and tag each GPR measurement with visual positioning information at every sampling step, (2) a learning-based migration module to interpret the raw GPR B-scan image into a two-dimensional (2D) cross-section model of objects, and (3) a three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction module, i.e., 30.0% GPRNet, to generate underground utility model represented as fine 3D point cloud. Comparative studies were performed on synthetic data and field GPR raw data with various incompleteness and noise. Experimental results demonstrated that our proposed method achieves a higher GPR imaging accuracy in mean intersection over union (IoU) than the conventional back-projection (BP) migration approach, and 6.9%−7.2% less loss in Chamfer distance (CD) than point cloud model reconstruction baseline methods. The GPR-based robotic inspection provides an effective tool for civil engineers to detect and survey underground utilities before construction.

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