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Small robots developed to eliminate need to access pipelines from the surface

03rd April 2014

US research and development company, Nysearch, has developed small robots capable of inspecting inside gas pipelines

Small robots developed to eliminate need to access pipelines from the surface
Small robots developed to eliminate need to access pipelines from the surface

PG&E has joined with Nysearch, National Grid, Rochester Gas & Electric, New York State Gas & Electric and Honeybee to develop a robot prototype that will enhance the companies’ ability to visually inspect natural gas pipelines for signs of corrosion, while minimizing lengthy constructions digs.

Small enough to be a toy, the device has the potential to save time and money for utilities.

In many locations, such as where underground pipelines run below railroad tracks or major freeways, companies use pipeline casings as an additional protective layer around the gas pipeline to help insulate it from harm. However, pipe casings are often in hard-to-reach areas that require extensive, time-consuming excavation whenever routine visual safety inspections are needed.

“Our testing so far shows that this device has the potential to save time and money for many gas companies who have applications for this new inspection technology,” said Daphne D’Zurko, executive director of Nysearch, a collaborative research and development organization comprised of gas member companies.

The robot is designed to travel on magnetic wheels down through tight, rounded vents to the space between the pipe and casing to record the condition of each covered segment.

The first prototype, named “MK1”, was tested in the US last year, and the refined, second prototype is scheduled to be tested in May 2014.

“We’re excited to see the next prototype in action and learn how we can apply it to our ongoing inspection programs,” said François Rongere, PG&E’s R&D and innovation manager in gas operations. “This new technology is just one example of the great value brought by the NYSEARCH R&D consortium to PG&E’s customers.”

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