Scottish Water uses ‘state-of-the-art drones, and lasers to enhance the sewer system

Scottish Water uses ‘state-of-the-art drones, and lasers to enhance the sewer system

Scottish Water is improving its sewer network and reducing carbon emissions by using “state-of-the-art” drones and lasers. The high-tech drones have been modified for use in the wastewater industry. They are used to looking for problems in the sewers by flying to parts of the network that humans can’t get to.

Scottish Water, its alliance partner Caledonia Water Alliance (CWA), environmental engineering company Environmental Techniques, and drone maker Good Friday Robotics are all working together on this project.

Using a drone and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) scanning and measuring techniques, Scottish Water has been able to do a job that normally takes a team of 15 people down to just two people. This means that workers in dangerous underground conditions are no longer needed. This will also cut carbon emissions from sewer surveys by up to 80% because plants and people won’t be used when they aren’t needed.

LiDAR is a laser scanning tool that measures distances, and the software that goes with it makes an accurate 3D point field that can be seen on a computer screen. The drone flies inside the pipe with the LiDAR and camera on board.

Scottish Water uses ‘state-of-the-art drones,

A worker pilots or controls the drone as it flies along the pipe and uses video and LiDAR to measure distances. Operators then look at the outputs by hand to find and code any problems.

Using the new methods, the water company will be able to get a more accurate picture of the condition of the sewers, which will help them decide how much to spend on repairs or maintenance. The more accurate surveys will lower the cost of repairs and maintenance, lower the risk of flooding and pollution, make it easier for the utility to invest in the right places, and improve the safety of workers. 
In July, the technologies were used together for the first time on a large brick sewer on Bath Street in the center of Glasgow. They will be used in other places in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and some rural areas.

Iain Jones, who is in charge of risk and life cycle planning for Scottish Water, said, “This is the first time we’ve used drones modified for sewers and LiDAR together for sewer surveys, and we’re really excited about it. For two reasons: we want to make sure our surveys are more accurate, and for safety reasons, we want to cut down on the number of people who have to work inside sewers to do surveys. The drone can do both of these things, and they will also help us reach our goal of having zero net carbon emissions by 2040.

the sewer system

“Depth flows, and debris can slow down a worker entry survey in a way that doesn’t affect drones. Since the number of workers has gone down, there is no longer a need for a large number of site vans and vehicle deliveries. This cuts down on carbon emissions. “

Shauna Herron, director of Environmental Techniques, said, “We’re thrilled to be working with Scottish Water, CWA, and Good Friday Robotics to use these cutting-edge technologies to help maintain and improve the sewer network under the streets of our cities and towns.” It is very important that it will also make workers safer and cut down on carbon emissions.


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