Melbourne’s drainage network has coped well under recent storm pressure thanks to tiny robots that have been working underneath our city streets.
The robots have re-lined almost a kilometre of drain pipes at a cost of $1.35 million as part of a City of Melbourne plan to improve the city’s drainage and water storage.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the robot technology is being used to repair Council’s drainage systems at a lower cost and with much less disruption than other repair or replacement options.
“By sending robots underground we are able to quickly and easily repair drains that can be more than 60 years old without causing weeks of disruption to commuters and businesses,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Our use of the drain robots has led to a 30 per cent reduction in the cost of maintaining this crucial drainage system.”
After first inspecting the drains with CCTV cameras, the robots manoeuvre a 5-8 mm thick fibreglass liner into the concrete pipes, before another robot ‘cures’ the material with UV, creating a hard lining that boosts the structural strength of the drains, preventing further deterioration or leaks.
Over the past two years the City of Melbourne has completed eight lining projects, including William Street, which needed urgent repair as it was causing flooding. Using the drain robots in William Street led to cost savings of more than $120,000 and the re-lining works took three to four days to complete, rather than the four to six weeks it would have taken to replace the piping.
“It is akin to minimally invasive high-tech keyhole surgery as opposed to open-heart surgery,” said Greg Rodwell, Melbourne Civil Infrastructure Contracts Manager at Citywide, which manages the drain robots program on behalf of the City of Melbourne.
“Rather than having to close off busy roads and junctions for several weeks and create huge holes to access the drains, we can much more effectively send down these manually operated robots to carry out all the inspection and repair works.”
This is one of many projects where the City of Melbourne and CityWide are using smart technology to improve the city. Fourteen “Big Belly” bins were also recently installed in the central city and use solar-powered sensor technology to monitor rubbish levels and compact rubbish as it is collected.