Groundbreaking work from National Grid to build a robot capable of inspecting buried pipework on high-pressure gas pipelines has been hitting the headlines in the national press.
The Times featured Project GRAID on 31 August in an article entitled ‘Robot as tough as rugby prop tackles gas pipes’.
The piece highlights GRAID’s deep importance to the UK gas network and showcases the remarkable robustness of the robotic platform, which is capable of withstanding similar forces to being tackled by an England rugby prop.
As well as detailing all the smart features of this ‘mighty little robot’, the story spells out GRAID’s benefits in numbers – not least that it will save National Grid and its consumers some £60m over the next two decades by reducing the need for premature excavations.
Project GRAID, which stands for Gas Robotic Agile Inspection Device, adds a new weapon to National Grid’s inspection armoury. With four driving tracks all loaded with magnets, the robot can effectively navigate previously unreachable sections of the network.
Equipped with state-of-the art sensors, it can collect valuable data about a pipe’s wall thickness and other defects, while providing a reliable picture of its overall condition.
The revolutionary robot will allow National Grid to manage, maintain and replace these assets more effectively than ever before. National Grid is collaborating with three SMEs – Synthotech, Premtech and Pipeline Integrity Engineers – to bring this OFGEM funded innovation to fruition.
With the robot’s design and offline trials now complete, online trials are set to begin later in the year. This will see the GRAID robot put to the test under real-life, pressurised conditions on a specially constructed rig. The robot is then expected to be ready for everyday deployment later next year.
Project Lead David Hardman said: “It’s a reflection of the groundbreaking work that’s being done on GRAID that it’s now making national news. As testing has progressed, it’s been incredible watching our robot move successfully around pipelines that have traditionally been difficult to navigate, all the time sending images back to our control centre that tell us much more about their true condition.
“It really brings home how close we now are to making this a reality for the industry.”
You can read more about the GRAID project at www.projectgraid.com.