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UK government to unleash army of tiny robots to fix pipes

04/01/2019
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Yes, you read that headline correctly.

The UK government has announced that it will be investing £26.6 million to build an army of micro-robots that can help repair Britain’s vast underground pipe network. It is hoped that the use of these robots will lead to a reduction in the 1.5 million road excavations that currently take place each year across the UK.
Small 1cm long robots will be used by the UK government to monitor and repair underground pipes.
£7 million of the funding will be used by scientists from 4 British universities to develop 1cm-long robotic devices that use sensors and navigation systems to find and mend cracks in pipes. A further 14 projects backed by £19.6 million, through the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), will see robots being developed for the inspection and maintenance of offshore wind farms, nuclear decommissioning facilities and other hazardous work environments. Researchers will also test new technologies, such as the use of artificial intelligence (AI) software on satellites in orbit to detect when repairs are needed, and the use of drones for oil pipeline monitoring.

“While for now we can only dream of a world without roadworks disrupting our lives, these pip-repairing robots herald the start of technology that could make that dream a reality in the future,” said Science Minister Chris Skidmore about the proposed robots.

“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. We have put research and development at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy, with the biggest boost to funding in UK history to create high skill jobs and boost productivity across the country,” he concluded.

With traffic closures and disruption to businesses as a result of roadworks estimated to cost more than £5 billion each year, the deployment of advanced robotics technology could have a big impact on the UK economy. 

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Tags: Engineering
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UK government to unleash army of tiny robots to fix pipes - Time to read 2 min
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