Municipalities save time, money and create new jobs
This month, a team of robots will be working their way through the underground of Peachtree City, USA to inspect sewer pipes. RedZone Robotics has developed the Solo: a light weight, autonomous sewer inspection robot. The main advantage this new technology provides is time–saving. The Peachtree water and city authority will end up with an inspection of all their collection pipes in the system in just a little over a year;an assessment that would normally take about 15 years to carry out but without the help of the robots.
The company expects that these little robots will have a huge impact on collection system managers by giving them the necessary information and time to make proactive decisions on system maintenance. According to a recent article, Peachtree city will pay these robots a salary of 178,256 USD a year for their services. Apparently this is comparable to what has been spent annually for much smaller scale inspections. The city is confident that the help of these robots will make inspection crews more productive and they also hope to hire more staff that will be trained to operate the robots and analyse the data that they will provide.
While these robots have a very specific application, others are able to lend a hand in urban environments in much broader ways. The European project URUS (Ubiquitous Networking Robotics in Urban Settings), aimed to develop lines of cooperation between network robots and humans in their surrounding urban environments.
Robots named Tibi and Dabo were used in urban pedestrian areas in two different types of experiments. During the first type of experiment, the robots were mainly used to direct people to specific places and to transport people and goods from one place to another. The second type of experiment consisted of surveillance tasks where robots navigated the urban area to detect abnormal situations such as vandalization, large crowds of people, areas with trash, suspicious activity etc. Although the URUS project is now complete you can check out Robot Companions for Citizens, a current European initiative which also aims to develop robots to assist us in the cities we live in.