Robot makes repairs on live London gas mains

UK gas distribution network SGN and US-based ULC Robotics have developed a new robotic system for inspecting and repairing live gas mains from inside the pipes.

The CIRRIS XR Repair Robot
The CIRRIS XR Repair Robot

The Cast Iron Robotic Repair Inspection System, or CIRRIS, consists of two complimentary robots. CIRRIS XI carries out inspection, collating data on the condition of large diameter metallic mains while travelling through the pipes. Sensors monitor corrosion levels, wall thickness and the stress the pipe is under – a level of analysis that SGN claims is a world first.

CIRRIS XR is the repair robot. It injects sealant into the walls and joints of the piping, repairing leaks and helping to prevent future damage. According to SGN, the system can inspect and repair hundreds of metres of live gas main from one small excavation, improving safety and minimising disruption to road users and gas customers. CIRRIS is currently being trialled in South London, with rollout across the network planned for spring 2016.

“We’re thrilled to be trialling CIRRIS on live gas mains in London,” said Gus McIntosh, SGN innovation and new technology manager. “It’s all part of us transforming how we work in the street – we want to develop innovative solutions to repair pipes that are causing us issues now and identify others before they cause issues in the future.” 

“We have a significant number of large diameter metallic pipes in densely populated, traffic sensitive areas. Historically, maintaining and upgrading these pipes involved digging multiple excavations along the route of the pipe. CIRRIS will make this essential work considerably less disruptive to local communities as we can maintain and repair up to 300m of pipe from just one small excavation.”