Robots aren’t just for science fiction. We use them all the time, and are always looking to develop more to make our pipes and service more efficient.

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What’s more our robots are pretty great, in fact, they’ve won national awards. They have a huge range of uses, including finding leaks as well as fixing them without causing any disruption to roads or people’s lives.

But this is just the start, and we’re always working to make them better so that we can be better too. As part of this we run trials across the UK, but if this will affect you or your service in any way, we will let you know well in advance.

What’s more, if you have any thoughts on any of our robotic projects we’d love to hear what you think. Email us at


Why we need robots

They have uses that we probably haven’t even thought of yet, but right now we know they can help us fix leaks and replace our pipe network.

At the moment most of our pipes are metal with rubber joints, but they wear down and leak, which affects your service and also the environment. That’s why we want to replace them with plastic versions. The bigger the pipe the more likely it is to spring a leak over time, so we’re replacing the larger ones first.

Robots can find the leaks and help us fix them, but also show us which areas are most likely to leak next, so they make this job a lot quicker and easier. Thanks to them we know which pipes have to be replaced first.


Our plans

The robotic modular system

If that sounds complicated it isn’t – it’s just a new system we’re developing that will allow us to fix and replace our pipes quicker and more cheaply, with less disruption to the roads or people’s lives. What’s more, the pipe can continue to be in use throughout, so no-one’s service is affected.

And as a bonus this will have much less impact on the environment than doing things the traditional way. We haven’t quite finished developing this robot but there’s not long to go, so we’re really excited about it.

The sensor module

At the moment if we wanted to check the condition of a pipe we’d have to do a lot of digging and disrupt a lot of people. That’s why we want a robot that can do this for us.

The sensor module, which is still in development, will allow us to measure pipe wall loss and stress  while the pipe is still in use. These sensors will be mounted on the robotic modular system mentioned above.

Remote service line connection

This is something we already do, which basically means putting smaller pipes inside larger ones that are already there, so that we have to disrupt your service less and do less digging. But now we want a robot to do this for us, so that the whole process is even quicker and more efficient.

There are two ways of doing this, called dead insertion and live insertion. Dead insertion means we disconnect the pipe and then carry on, live insertion means the pipe remains connected and in service the entire time. The new robotic technique will allow for a live insertion.

It will be quicker, it will be cheaper and it will be safer.  

Project partners

We’re working with ULC Robotics and RPS Group on these projects

ULC is designing and building the new systems, so that together we can improve safety and efficiency, while reducing cost and risk.

RPS is planning and analysing the new systems, to make sure we follow all rules and laws to the letter.