Micro Robots Built To Repair Underground Pipe Network

A team of scientists from four universities around the UK are prioritising water leak detection and repairs, with the development of new micro robots designed to fix the country’s huge underground pipe network.


Government investment totaling £7 million will be used to develop these devices, which feature sensors and navigation systems to find and mend cracked pipes, intended to cut the disruption caused by the 1.5 million road excavations that take place each year.


These roadworks are estimated to cost more than £5 billion when traffic closures and disruption to businesses are taken into account. Flying and underwater versions of these robots will also be used to inspect and maintain oil and gas pressure vessels, and offshore wind turbines.


And new technologies such as using artificial intelligence software on orbiting satellites to detect when repairs are necessary, and drones for oil pipeline monitoring, will also be tested.


“While for now we can only dream of a world without roadworks disrupting our lives, these pipe-repairing robots herald the start of technology that could make that dream a reality in the future.


“From deploying robots in our pipe network so cutting down traffic delays, to using robots in workplaces to keep people safer, this new technology could change the world we live in for the better. Experts in our top UK universities across the country are well equipped to develop this innovative new technology,” Chris Skidmore, science minister, said.


Martin Temple, chair of the Health and Safety Executive, made further comments, reminding industry to consider how this kind of technology can be used to help manage risks in the workplace, safeguarding members of staff now and well into the future.


As you may well already know, it can be incredibly difficult to find water leaks as the majority of them take place well underground, tucked away where no one can see them. This means that they’re often not discovered until they become seriously problematic and companies find themselves suddenly facing spiralling water bills and huge repair bills for water damage sustained as a result of leaks.


Leaks can occur for a variety of reasons, whether that’s age or general deterioration, weather erosion, vibration from traffic overhead, poor connection of valves or accidental damage from work taking place around them.


How expensive a leak will prove to be depends very much on how quickly it’s detected. If you find the leak immediately, the damage will be minimal so you can keep your repair bills under control, but if it’s left for a significant amount of time, seeping water can begin to do serious structural damage – which will mean the cost impact can be huge.


If you’d like to find out more about how to detect water leaks and what can then be done once they’re found, give us a call today.