New spin-out company brings cutting-edge technology to non-destructive testing


A drone in flight

Sonobotics is a spin-out company originated from the NDE research group in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial.

The company founders are Dr Frederic Cegla, Dr Pouyan Khalili and Dr. Arnau Garriga-Casanovas, all from the Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) group. Sonobotics enables new applications for robotic platforms by introducing unique sensing technologies to create the inspection industry of tomorrow.   The products promise efficient, safe, wireless and innovative solutions.

Inspection has always been a crucial aspect for the smooth operation of any industry, with human protection, efficiency and sustainability at the centre of concerns. It is time consuming and expensive for companies to conform to stringent industrial standards while maintaining a safe workplace and protecting workers from harm when tasks at remote and harsh locations need to be executed. SONOBOTICS’ products have been engineered to address industrial inspection challenges where robotics can make a difference.

As part of the Offshore Robotics for the Certification of Assets (ORCA) Hub, the NDE group has developed a range of low-power Electro-Magnetic Acoustic Transducer (EMAT) acquisition systems that are compact and mobile enough to enable a new range of innovative robotic applications. By reinventing the design, incorporating new components along with unique software, the research gradually brought solutions to a stage where they have become technically and economically feasible alternatives to existing NDT systems for robotics.

The ORCA Hub is a multimillion-pound research programme developing Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems for the offshore sector. Launched in October 2017, ORCA Hub is part of the government’s £93m R&D funding on “Robotics and AI for Extreme Environments” through the Industry Strategic Challenge Fund (ISCF). The fund is delivered by UK Research and Innovation, and managed by EPSRC.


Nadia Barbu

Nadia Barbu
Department of Mechanical Engineering