Robots deployed to fix London gas pipes

Gas distribution network Cadent has deployed a fleet of robots across London to rehabilitate Victorian gas pipes around the capital without the need for large excavations.

Cadent has claimed that the so-called “gas-bots” can carry out maintenance work faster, more smoothly and more economically.

CISBOT needs only one small excavation to access each 500m section of pipeline, enabling work to be done with minimal disruption to the public.

The company has already been using the CISBOT machine, manufactured by New York-based ULC Robotics, at locations in Oxford Street and the Strand since last year but has now expanded the use of the technology.

The gas-bots will now be used across London in the boroughs of Camden, City of London, City of Westminster, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Richmond Upon Thames, Tower Hamlets and Wandsworth.

The machine is controlled by a team of operators working in an above-ground vehicle and enters the gas mains via a special insertion tube. Once inside the gas main, which remains live during the process, CISBOT rehabilitates the gas main joints by injecting a special sealant into them. This reduces the risk of future gas escapes and extends the life of ageing gas pipes by decades.

James Harrison, Cadent head of operations for London, said: “Cadent and ULC Robotics are spearheading a robotic roadworks revolution with CISBOT.

“CISBOTs work in the Strand and Oxford Street last year was so successful that we’re now rolling the robots out across our London network, where they’ll help us to do work faster, smoother and more economically than ever before.

“People should increasingly notice the tangible benefits CISBOT brings, including less above-ground disruption and the continued provision of safe and reliable gas supplies.”

Graeme Cleeton, vice president UK Operations, ULC Robotics, said: “CISBOT dramatically reduces disruption in a number of ways.

“We need fewer and smaller excavations and can also carry out the work much faster, all of which means a lot less disruption for road users.”

He added: “Another major benefit is that CISBOT can work in live gas pipes meaning we don’t have to turn off people’s gas supply while we’re carrying out the work.”

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