UK-based hyperTunnel has partnered with the University of Birmingham to develop an innovative tunneling method that costs less and proceeds more quickly. The partnership will include digital twins and 3D printing, as well as technology for autonomous tunneling.



The University of Birmingham and hyperTunnel, a UK company developing underground construction methods, will cooperate to develop a faster, more efficient tunnelling method.In particular, they will focus on new methods of underground construction, enlargement, monitoring and repair of tunnels.

A joint statement said that their new automated construction methods being developed by hyperTunnel will reduce carbon footprint by building tunnels more than 10 times faster and at half the cost of conventional methods.

At the heart of the concept is the use of robots to 3D-print the shell of the underground structure, according to a digital twin. Using this method, the construction material is deployed directly into the ground.

Initially focusing on autonomous tunnelling technologies, imaging and digital simulations, the partnership is likely to include activities such as collaborative research, technology projects, joint publications, secondments, internships and education programmes.

Key is the University of Birmingham’s National Buried Infrastructure Facility – part of the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities. UKCRIC is designed to stimulate research activities in the fields of infrastructure and cities through close collaboration between academia, industry and government. The National Buried Infrastructure Facility is researching soil/structure interaction, digital twinning, tunnelling and quantum-technology sensing.

HyperTunnel and the University of Birmingham will also engage in joint activities at the university’s new campus in Dubai, which includes the development of a multi-million-pound Tunnelling Centre of Excellence, said Nicole Metje, professor of infrastructure monitoring at the University of Birmingham.

“Both our organisations are deeply involved in radically innovating underground infrastructure and use of underground space,” said Jeremy Hammond, hyperTunnel co-founder.