Underground Robots Can Extend The Lifetime of Sewer Pipes

Research Project About Robotic Sewerage Inspection

The below article was published on October 26, 2018 in the Danish newspaper Aarhus Stiftstidende. It has been translated here into English.

Robots in the Sewerage System Hold Great Cost Saving Potential

New Robots Working Underground Can Extend the Lifetime of Sewer Pipes and Drains

The sewerage system running under the city is indispensable, but very expensive in terms of maintenance costs. The lack of knowledge about the condition of the pipes requires Danish water plants to change the pipes much earlier than required. This is very expensive and even a small improvement in the lifetime of the pipes can generate great savings for society. This is the objective of a research project by Aalborg University, Danish water plants and technology companies.

The water plants are not able to constantly monitor the sewer pipes. This means that tear and defects in the pipes are not identified in time, leading to critical errors and subsequent installation of replacement pipes. The objective of the research project is that the monitoring process can be automated, so that the water plants only have to intervene right before a pipe needs maintenance.

One of the water plants involved in the project is Aarhus Vand. Section chief Peter Hjortsdal sees great potential in using robot technology to monitor the sewerage system:

In Aarhus we have 2,800 km of sewer pipes. Using manual TV monitoring as we do today, we are able to inspect 75-100 km per year. Using robot technology, we can move from sample inspections to online monitoring and from manual to automated processes.

This means that we can continuously inspect a much larger part of our sewerage system more regularly which allows us to focus our efforts much better to the areas that require maintenance work. This in turn means that we can extend the lifetime of the sewerage system which has some very tangible socio-economic benefits.

Sewer with Aarhus logo - ASIR project
interior-of-sewage tunnel asir project

Objective: Reduced Costs

The objective of the research project is to automate the sewer inspection process. Robots are introduced into the sewers to collect data about the pipes which will then be analyzed by computers to detect irregularities in the pipes.

The main goal is to reduce the water plants’ maintenance costs of the sewerage system but the project could also be an important opportunity for the companies involved, as because the issue of sewer pipe inspection is a challenge for water plants in all countries of the world.

With the ASIR research project, the sewerage system is made more transparent because we are able to use the latest technology and research to collect and analyze data about the sewers. The cost saving potential for Danish water plants is remarkable. Keeping in mind that this is a well-known challenge across the world, this project holds great potential

To reach this goal, intensive research and testing will be necessary. The Innovation Foundation of Denmark’s investment in the ASIR project allows the project participants to carry out the necessary research and testing, which will ultimately reaffirm Denmark’s position as one of the leading countries when it comes to developing innovative high-tech solutions.

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