Underground robot-assisted construction of Ho Chi Minh City metro in photos

A tour down to the second tunnel of the Ho Chi Minh City metro system, the longest underground passage in Vietnam, provides awe of its technical aspect and working environment. This underground route, stretching from Ba Son Terminal to the Municipal Theater Terminal in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, began to be constructed on January 26 after the first tunnel came into existence in October last year, and is planned to be completed in June. A descent down several steep flights of stairs took a visitor to the building scene more than ten meters below the ground. The tunnel is spacious, closely fitted with prefabricated slabs of concrete and muffled sounds of purring machines from the nearby parallel subterranean passage in the making. Engineers were taking copious notes of the site operation while concrete blocks were being carried from the entrance to the spot of a Japanese-produced tunnel boring machine (TBM). The robot’s drilling bits are the adult’s big-toe size, about 15 centimeters long, and mounted around a circular steel frame. After digging 1.2 meters, the robot stops to install concrete slabs, weighing roughly 3,000 kilograms each and 300 millimeters thick, onto the tunnel walls and floor. Despite the slabs’ bulk and lack of room, this specialized machine managed to position them with exactitude and ease as if it were handling jigsaw pieces, leaving workers with the job of driving bolts for reinforcement. The machine is programmed to ensure that the tunnel is water-proof and able to withstand high… [Read full story]

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