- Redwood City, CA–based HiBot has developed an amphibious robot capable of crawling through pipe infrastructure for data collection and visualization, according to CNBC.
- The robot can analyze pipe-wall thickness, flow rates and ambient soil and weather conditions to grade pipe infrastructure on an A to F scale.
- HiBot has secured $2.7 million in equity funding to develop machine learning and artificial intelligence for infrastructure robotics.
With the American Water Works Association predicting the failure of over 1 million miles of pipe in the next 30 years, HiBot has plenty of pipe to travel as it uses predictive analytics to determine which pipes are highest priority for replacement. The AWA has reported that the cost of pipe replacement over the next 25 years will top $1 trillion and will be funded primarily through service rate increases.
HiBot isn’t the first company to explore micro-robotics for infrastructure data collection and assessment. Researchers at North Carolina State University have proposed incorporating robotics and insects like cockroaches to provide a "biobot" swarm that can gather and transmit infrastructure data, particularly in biohazard or disaster zones where human inspection puts lives at risk.
Swiss researchers have likewise developed a robot that can crawl upside-down on bridge spans to collect structural integrity data and provide camera-generated visuals to its remote control operator.