In the next thirty years, some one million miles of pipes in the U.S. are predicted to fail at a replacement cost of more than $1 trillion, according to the American Water Works Association. But optimizing those repairs and bringing down the price tag may not be a pipe dream.
California-based startup HiBot has developed an intelligent, amphibious robot to snake around aged pipelines and assess everything from the thickness of the pipe’s walls to flow rates, soil conditions, and the impact of weather. It also has a little camera on the front so that operators can get an inside view of any damage or corrosion.
The goal is to be able to strategically identify which pipes need replacing most urgently, thereby optimizing resources to fix the worst problems before wasting cash and time tearing up a system that could’ve lasted another fifty years.
Lars Stenstedt, HiBot's vice president of business development tells CNBC that spending “around dams, road, and bridges” is all well and good. “But nobody can go 24 hours without clean water.”
The company is already testing its products in California and has plans to expand nationwide later this year.