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Autonomous robotics for water and sewer networks

Author(s): Stephen R. Mounce; Will J. Shepherd; Joby B. Boxall; Kirill V. Horoshenkov; Jordan H. Boyle

Linked Author(s): Kirill Horoshenkov

Keywords: Hydrolink; smart water networks; Internet of Things (IoT); Robotic Autonomous Systems (RAS); Information and Communications Technology (ICT); TWENTY65; Smartball; pipe robots


Smart water networks are at the forefront of investment plans for water companies in the developed world as part of a progression to a circular economy. Technological advancements allow water companies to gather more information about their networks and assets than ever before and to connect the sector to the Internet of Things (IoT). Edge computing will help make IoT rollouts more integral and core to the way businesses work in coming years using new sensing approaches including using in-pipe robotics. Pervasive Robotic Autonomous Systems (RAS) will facilitate a move from reactive to truly proactive practice, enabling ongoing and repeat assessment of pipe condition and operational performance. It is foreseen that robotic inspection / data collection will add increasing amounts of data to more traditional data sources. The more intelligence that is captured, the more that can be learned, understood and predicted about the network. Extra data provides new opportunities for asset condition monitoring, performance assessment, maintenance and event analytics. This article provides background on cutting edge research which aims to revolutionise buried pipe infrastructure management with the development of swarms of micro-robots designed to work in underground pipe networks autonomously and cooperatively. New Artificial Intelligence algorithms are being developed that uniquely incorporate Lagrangian (mobile sensing) rather than traditional Eulerian (fixed sensing) based coordinate systems. The resulting big data can be used for pipe condition assessment and to inform simulation of hydrodynamic performance of pipe networks, for example identifying pinch points or spare capacity.


Year: 2021

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