MIT Researchers Working on Robot Pipeline Inspectors

One MIT News – A robot that can inspect water and gas pipelines from the inside to find leaks before they become catastrophic? That’s the idea behind a new system being developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The project, under the direction of professor of mechanical engineering Kamal Youcef-Toumi, has been in development and testing for nine years. The team has been carrying out tests on 12-inch concrete water-distribution pipes under the city of Monterrey, Mexico. The system uses a small, rubber robotic device that looks like an oversized badminton birdie. The robot is inserted into the water system through a fire hydrant. Logging its position as it moves throughout the pipeline system, the robot detects small variations in pressure. The device is then retrieved and the data uploaded.

According to the MIT Team, which calls itself PipeGuard, the next step is to make a more flexible, collapsible version of the robot that can adapt itself to pipes of different diameters.

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