Pipefish Robot Checks Pipes Cheap

Deteriorating water infrastructure in the United States is accelerating, and fixing it will be expensive - even if you know where to find the leaks. Estimates of lost potable water from infrastructure are that forty percent of water is lost due to leaks.


(Pipefish robot seeks leaks)

Fortunately, there's Pipefish, created by USC's Information Sciences Institute, an autonomous robot able to detect damage.

Created by Wei-Min Shen, director of ISI’s Polymorphic Robotics Lab and research associate professor of computer science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, the robot is inserted into the water system through existing fire hydrants. The device captures real-time video, using sensors and navigation technology to collect data and log its position as it goes.

Shen has been working with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to develop and test the robot, called Pipefish, for the past year.

Support for the project comes from real estate magnate and philanthropist Michael Keston who, with his wife Linda, created ISI’s first endowed directorship position in 2015.

“This could be a game-changer,” Shen said. “Instead of excavating and replacing every pipe, which is a huge expense, PipeFish can narrow in on specific problems to enable repair before serious damage occurs.”

Science fiction fans know that the Sentinel robots from the Matrix movies are inevitable - Pipefish is one of their progenitors.


(Duct-diving Sentinel robots from The Matrix)
However, given the overall shape of this robot, and the fact that it depends on water flow to move around, makes me think of all of the capsule endoscopy robots we've seen over the past few years. It's pretty much the same problem; send a robot through the pipes and take pictures tied to locations. See the Spider Pill: Wireless Endoscopic Capsule Robot and the Disco Capsule Endoscope Theme Park Video for more.

Via NextBigFuture.

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