In the Netherlands the majority of the low-pressure gas distribution network (100.000 km) is currently only inspected above ground by ‘sniffing’ methods. For the high-pressure distribution mains passive data loggers or pipe inspection gauges (PIGs) can be used for internal inspection. These systems have however no autonomous functionality and lack systems for navigation. The low-pressure net is ‘non-piggable’ due to the small diameters present and large number of bends, T-joints etc. However, to ensure safe distribution, the entire net has to be checked for leaks every 5 years.
The non-piggable low pressure net occupies most of the urban area and it has the highest risks for public health and safety. Moreover, since the replacement of pipelines in an urban area is very expensive, it is important to have accurate data on the state of the pipes and precise information on the locations of leaks and damaged sections.
This project is devoted to design an energy efficient robot system, capable of autonomous navigation in low-pressure gas distribution network. Furthermore this projects aims to develop innovative network sensor systems and sensing methodologies which can be integrated in the robotic device for data acquisition on the gas distribution network. This system could eventually replace the current practice of leak survey and improve the assessment of the quality of the mains, being able to investigate the mains very closely from inside.
This project has started in 2006 working on design and the development of a single robot structure for navigation trough small diameter, low-pressure gas distribution mains. The system should be capable of moving through gas distribution pipes of various diameters and through a number of complex obstacles, like bends, T-joints and elbows.