A gas-main robot can fix pipes without a shutoff

The Cirris XR is also safer for workers and can make more repairs per day

As a person who despises the cold, there is nothing worse than being home on a frigid winter night and having your utility company turn off the gas for repairs. Thankfully, robots are here to save us from having to bundle up like the Michelin Man just to stay toasty in our own homes.

ULC Robotics has developed a robot, called Cirris XR, that's able to work on live gas mains so utilities don't have to turn off service to do repairs. Using the robot can also increase efficiency and operator safety. According to the company, gas utilities using Cirris XR would be able to repair five or six joints a day versus the one or two joints a human could work on. ULC says the Cirris XR has the ability to access 300 meters of main through one small excavation, saving companies the trouble of digging up an entire road to fix a broken pipe.

Humans can't be entirely ruled out of the equation. Cirris XR is not fully autonomous and still requires a remote operator to help it navigate around bends and work the drill.

Recently, ULC Robotics completed successful field tests in collaboration with the U.K. utility SGN, which distributes natural and green gas to 5.9 million homes and businesses across Scotland and the south of England. Once all testing is completed, ULC Robotics says it plans to bring the technology to the United States.

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Magdalena Petrova

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