• Elements one and two


    Robotic platform/launch system and repair module

    Great Britain's gas distribution networks have a considerable amount of post-war spun cast iron mains with mechanical joints at their connection points. These joints generally have a rubber gasket forced between the two parts of the joints and over time the gaskets can dry out and shrink, creating leak paths for pressurised gas. Multiple excavations are required to repair these joints externally – typically found every 12ft. In extreme cases, we have to decommission the main and repair it internally.

    The project will develop a robotic platform which can vertically launch into live tier two and three gas pipes. The platform will accommodate a module which can travel 150m in either direction from the single launch excavation point, and install mechanical seals within the pipe.

    A launch tube system will prevent gas from escaping during the process.


    This graphical impression shows a modular system being launched into a gas main. It represents the initial ideas but the design has moved so far that it is no longer an accurate representation of the system!

    This innovative approach with reduce the amount of excavation and restoration needed which will:

    • Reduce cost and streamline the process by reducing the need for permits to excavate the road

    • Reduce the amount of disruption for the public and traffic

    • Avoid disruption to the gas service by preventing the need to decommission the gas pipe during the repair

    • Create a much smaller carbon footprint than conventional repair methods