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New robot in the pipeline


Researchers at MIT have developed a robotic system with the potential to save water by detecting leakage in pipes.

The soft robot device resembles a shuttlecock and can be placed in pipes through fire hydrants. The system has been in development for nearly a decade and is being spearheaded by mechanical engineering professor, Kamal Youcef-Toumi, graduate student You Wu and a couple of others.

With around a fifth of water lost through leaks, this is a game-changing breakthrough by the MIT team – called PipeGuard. It has been testing in the city of Monterrey, Mexico – which loses about 40% of its water from leaks, at a cost of $80 million.

Pipeguard has also been testing the robot with partners in Saudi Arabia, where a third of water is lost in this way.

“We put the robot in from one joint, and took it out from the other. We tried it 14 times over three days, and it completed the inspection every time,” Wu said.

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