A robot designed to identify leaking pipes in your home or business has just won the 2018 James Dyson Award because of its design and innovation.
The Lighthouse robot was designed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) doctoral graduate You Wu. It can crawl through underground pipes autonomously and detect water loss before it beocmes a much bigger, more expensive and wasteful problem.
Wu explained that he designed the robot after being shocked by a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers that revealed that around 20% of clean water produced in the world is lost as the result of leaky pipes every single day. That’s a whole lot of water and in a world where some people don’t even have access to safe drinking water, even more catastrophic.
To find problematic pipes, an engineer simply needs to put the robot into a pipe using a n existing hydrant. it will then go through the pipe system passively, working its way around all the twists and bends to find areas where suction is lower due to a leak.
It measures how low the suction is and the exact location. To retrieve the robot and start planning the leak’s maintenance, it’s flushed out through another hydrant, meaning no specialist equipment aside form the robot itself is needed for its operation. The map of leaks can then be downloaded and action can be taken.
“Winning the James Dyson Award is a great recognition of my six years of effort to solve the world’s water loss problem through engineering and design,” Wu told Digital Trends.
“This summer, I built my company, WatchTower Robotics, with the technology coming out of this project. The James Dyson Award is bringing publicity to my company at the perfect time. It will connect us with potential customers, team members, partners, and investors. Moreover, it will help us educate the public that the 20 percent water loss is a real and common problem — and now we have a technology to address it effectively.”