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Firm Unveils Pipe Inspection Robot

Friday, March 24, 2017

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A new amphibious robot may be the next tool in the war on corrosion and other problems with America’s aging water pipelines.

Startup HiBot USA recently revealed the project it’s been working on: A robotic device that can travel through water pipelines, collecting data about what’s going on in there, and helping to determine which pipes need attention most urgently, before a problem occurs.

© / tverkhovinets

More than a million miles of pipes in the U.S. will reach the end of their useful life in the next 30 years, costing $1 trillion to replace.

HiBot calls its method “databotics,” combining robotics and big data to analyze pipeline conditions. As it makes its way through the pipes, the robot can measure things like the thickness of the pipe walls, and flow rate. It comes equipped with video equipment as well, for visual inspection for internal corrosion.

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California-based HiBot USA was founded by robotics pioneer Shigeo Hirose, and is currently run by president and CEO Takashi Kato. According to CNBC, it has raised $3.6 million from venture capitalists to fund its development phase. The company expects to roll out the robots for purchase later this year.

The company cites American Water Works Association numbers stating that more than a million miles of pipes in the U.S. will reach the end of their useful life in the next 30 years, costing $1 trillion to replace, arguing that identifying pipes on their way out is crucial right now.

In addition to identifying pipes with problems, the firm says its “databotics” model can help utilities to analyze usage and reliability, and prioritize budget needs.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Corrosion; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Infrastructure; Latin America; non-potable water; North America; Pipeline; potable water; Program/Project Management; Robotics

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