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Published On: Thu, Nov 22nd, 2018

AI Robots to Enter Sewer Systems

Millions of dollars are spent on aging sewer systems around the world, and robots are taking aim at the problem. Robots are being created for a Danish research project that will use artificial intelligence, big data and robots to maintain sewer systems.

Sewer pipe states need frequent assessment to understand the state if the system. Cities are often forced to replace older lines without knowing the state of the line.

View of a mouse inside of a pipe photo/ Aarhus Water
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Funding is spent prematurely on these lines, causing the money-strapped cities to spend money on systems that may have lasted for several more years before needing replacement. In an effort to offer environmental pipe cleaning and inspection, robots are being deployed to help automate complex tasks.

Sensor data will be gathered and examined by robots, allowing the data to be analyzed for errors and to be able to determine the state of the water and sewer systems.

Constant managing of systems, especially in larger cities, is not possible, leading to wear and damage that goes undetected before reaching critical states. Vision monitoring and big data will be used to help water suppliers identify pipe failures for renovation.

Researchers are hoping robots will be able to automate the entire inspection process, allowing for robots to collect data and send it back to complex computer systems that use advanced algorithms to check for irregularities in the pipes.

Machine learning is being deployed in other similar projects with the intent of being able to analyze pipes for irregularities. The goal is to eliminate the need for manual system inspections, identifying pipes that need to be fixed or replaced.

Inspector costs will be driven down, and intervention will be determined algorithmically to be able to assess a piping system. Companies working on robotic sewer inspections are also considering pitching the technology to other cities and countries to add to their income stream.

Infrastructure remains a top issue in the United States, with many older cities having hundreds of miles of pipes that are near a century old. Sewer and water systems are also not able to drain water properly at high rainfall rates, causing some cities to suffer from sewage spills when rain conditions intensify. Raleigh has spilled millions of gallons of sewage in the last week alone thanks to heavy rainfalls which led to overflows.

AI robots offer the option for cities to strategically repair systems in critical states and avoid replacing p

ipes that may be able to extend their lifespan a little longer.

Author: Jacob Maslow

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