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Robot Water Pipe Inspectors

Norwegian researchers and a small company in Tromsø are taking part in a project aimed at preventing between 30 and 50 per cent of Europe’s drinking water being lost due to pipe leakages

The company Breivoll Inspection Technologies has only five employees. Nevertheless, it is working closely with Norwegian municipalities and research centres both in Norway and overseas. The reason for the company’s success is its advanced application of ultrasound.

Together with Det Norske Veritas, it has developed an inspection methodology for water distribution grids. A long, torpedo-like and propeller-driven robot is guided through the water and district heating pipe systems. It is equipped with 64 large ultrasound transducers which transmit and receive ultrasound signals. It collects data which enable us calculate the thickness of, and levels of corrosion in, the pipes.

Last year, the company was incorporated into the EU project called TRACT. In collaboration with SINTEF and Spanish and Italian research partners, the EU intends to develop an inspection robot for different types of pipes, including branched pipe systems, with the aim of taking measurements without having to shut down water supplies.

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