Non-intrusive inspection for manhole covers

Can you find an alternative to the current manual inspection regime for manhole covers and service trench covers in industrial settings?

What is the open innovation challenge?

The Innovation Exchange programme is working alongside a large UK company with facilities situated throughout the UK and activities that take place across the world. Across the estate there are over 6,600 manhole covers or service trench covers in primarily industrial locations, which all require regular inspection. The business needs help to identify an alternative to the current manual inspection regime.

Across the 19km internal road network and attendant hard-standing, these 6,600 covers are made up of many different materials and construction methods. They will be anything up to 50 years old and in various states of repair. They are seeking an alternative and non-intrusive way to assess the integrity of these covers on a periodic basis (or continuously if possible).

The challenge owner is actively looking for solutions that will:

  • Assess the current condition of the covers and pits
  • Identify and highlight defects
  • Monitor changes in condition over time

Solutions should consider innovations from some of the following areas:

  • Robotics
  • Sensor specialists
  • Material scientists
  • Machine-vision specialists
  • CCTV suppliers
  • Security service solution providers
  • Artificial intelligence software providers
  • Machine learning innovators
  • 3-D scanning
  • LIDAR imaging
  • Motion capture, animation
  • VR/AR
  • Wearable device manufacturers


Entrants to this competition must be:

  • Established businesses, start-ups, SMEs or individual entrepreneurs
  • UK based or have the intention to set up a UK base


Deadline for applications: 5 February 2021

Selection and notification of finalists: 26 February 2021

There is a need for this solution as soon as possible, so this would ideally be a fully developed solution.

Next steps

Register on the KTN innovation exchange website to access full details of the challenge.