Robots coming to plumbing industry

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Excavating to diagnose and repair buried pipes may soon be in the past, thanks to research being funded by the British government.

Researchers are developing micro robots, or microbots, that detect and repair cracks in buried pipes. Still in the research and development stage, the microbot is said to take design inspiration from insects and worms, reports Building Operating Management Magazine and www.facilitiesnet.com.

The pipe repair project is part of a $35 million robotics initiative aimed at developing solutions for hazardous or difficult-to-reach locations. The end goal will be to reduce workplace injuries and the disruption caused by inspection-and-repair tactics, organizers claim.

Researchers from Leeds, Bristol, Birmingham, and Sheffield Universities are developing the robots. A market-ready design is expected within five years.

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