Robot sewer inspectors to start April 9

In several weeks, camera-armed robots will begin methodically working their way through Peachtree City sewer pipes, providing video evidence of each pipe’s status.

Starting April 9, crews are expected to be in the field seven days a week deploying the robots, which will be lowered underground and anchored by tether to a manhole cover. Citizens should expect to see the crews out from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and sometimes a bit earlier or later depending on the situation, officials said.

The autonomous robots resemble a skinny miniaturized tank with an orange tread that helps move it to and fro inside the sewer collection pipes.

The robots offered by Redzone Robotics of Pittsburgh, Penn. are a first-of-its-kind innovation for the sewer industry. The video camera footage of each pipe will be archived, and WASA employees will be able to pan the camera to look at different angles from the same viewpoint.

But the big upshot from robots is that the Peachtree City Water and Sewer Authority will end up with an inspection of all its collection pipes in the system. Typically that would take about 15 years, but the robots will get the work done in 15 months.

WASA officials will use the data gathered during the inspection to plan its future capital projects and identify where system rehabilitation is necessary. All data, including the video, will be available offline so no Internet connection is required, officials said.

The cost of going with Redzone Robotics is $178,256 a year for seven years at zero percent interest. That is comparable to what WASA has been spending annually for the much smaller scale manual video inspections, officials have said.