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A remote controlled robot called Wally is being employed by Queensland Urban Utilities to inspect over 34 kilometres of pipeline in Brisbane’s underground sewerage network.

The lone robot uses laser technology to assess the condition of Brisbane’s sewer lines.

Queensland Urban Utilities General Manager of Major Projects, Mike Griffiths, said the robot used a combination of laser pulses and closed circuit TV cameras to create digital 3D images of the pipe’s interior.

“The laser profiling technology picks up faults that can’t be seen with CCTV alone,” he said.

“We need to keep a close eye on things like tree roots, silt and debris as well as corrosion caused by the presence of hydrogen sulphide gas which can attack the internal walls of our pipes.”

The robot is lowered into sewer maintenance holes. A crew above the surface then uses remote controls to drive the robot through the sewerage network.

“The data is sent back via a live feed, allowing us to assess the condition of our pipes with minimal interruption to local residents and traffic,” Mr Griffiths said.

“Queensland Urban Utilities inspects 100 kilometres of the sewerage network every year – that’s about the same distance from Brisbane to Toowoomba.

“Using this technology is a safe approach because we don’t have to send our people into the sewerage system with all the risks associated with working in confined spaces.”

The robot inspection program is part of Queensland Urban Utilities’ $3.2 billion 10-year capital works investment to help ensure the long term sustainability of Brisbane’s sewerage network. 

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