The Informer

Scientists at four British universities have been given £7 million to develop robots to repair underground pipes.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore said the technology would cut the £5 billion lost each year by businesses due to roadworks.

A further 14 projects will receive £19.6m through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) to send robots into hazardous work places such as offshore wind-farms and nuclear decommissioning facilities.

Researchers will also test new technologies – such as artificial intelligence (AI) software on satellites in orbit to detect when repairs are needed – and drones for oil pipeline monitoring.

Innovative new technology

Skidmore said: “While for now we can only dream of a world without roadworks disrupting our lives, these pipe-repairing robots herald the start of technology that could make that dream a reality.

“From deploying robots in our pipe network so cutting down traffic delays, to using robots in workplaces to keep people safer, this new technology could change the world we live in for the better.

“Experts in our top UK universities across the country are well-equipped to develop this innovative new technology.”

> Read the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy's announcement

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