The UK is set to invest £26.6 million in build microrobots.
These tiny robotic critters will help repair the UK’s vast underground pipe network. Typically these types of roadworks are highly disruptive and using robotics in these potentially hazardous environments will also help avoid workplace injuries.
An example of how the robots might look from the University of Sheffield
The bots will including flying and underwater robots and can also be used to inspect and maintain oil and gas pressure vessels and offshore wind turbines.
Funding for the scheme will come from the government’s modern Industrial Strategy. This fund is designed to invest in the industries of tomorrow.
While for now we can only dream of a world without roadworks disrupting our lives, these pipe-repairing robots herald the start of technology that could make that dream a reality in the future […] From deploying robots in our pipe network so cutting down traffic delays to using robots in workplaces to keep people safer, this new technology could change the world we live in for the better. Experts in our top UK universities across the country are well-equipped to develop this innovative new technology. Science Minister Chris Skidmore
As the UK already develops world-leading robotics technologies the hope is the new project will help boost the UK robotics sector and allow it to grow and dominate international markets.
The funding will initially allocate £7 million to 4 British universities to develop 1 cm-long robotic devices that use sensors and navigation systems to find and mend cracks in pipes.
While the scheme might seem expensive repairs to the UK’s huge underground pipe network are estimated to amount to more than £5 billion and account for 1.5 million road excavations each year.
A further 14 projects backed by £19.6 million government investment, through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), will see robots sent to hazardous workplaces such as offshore wind-farms and nuclear-decommissioning facilities.
Engineers are also set to test new technologies, such as the use of artificial intelligence (AI) software on satellites in orbit to detect when repairs are needed, and drones for oil pipeline monitoring.
Read More at sheffield.ac.uk