Cadent will roll out its “gas-bots” in several London boroughs including Camden, Hackney and Kensington and Chelsea over the next few weeks.
The gas operator confirmed the expansion plans at a technology showcase event held at City Hall in the capital last week (25 April).
Robots are increasingly playing a part in the company’s gas operations enabling it to carry out maintenance work more efficiently and extend the life of pipes by up to 50 years.
The move follows a successful trial in two of the capital’s busiest areas Oxford Street and The Strand last year.
Cadent has been working with New York-based company ULC Robotics using its cast iron joint sealing repair robots (CISBOT), which were showcased at the event in London.
Since July 2018 ULC has worked with Cadent on 5km of pipes across its network, with plans for 30km of further works over the next two years.
Controlled by an above-ground operator viewing a live camera feed, the robots can extend the life of cast iron pipes, such as those used to transport gas in London – the majority of which were installed over a century ago.
Previously jobs which would have required large excavations and taken months to complete can now be done in weeks using the robots.
CISBOTs are inserted directly into pipes with minimal excavation needed, reducing the risk of supply interruptions.
They can travel on average 122m from a single entry point. This distance could even stretch up to 450m depending on pipe layout and location of valves.
The preliminary projects in London were carried out without a single interruption to gas supply, road closure, or even installation of a temporary traffic light.
The technology also takes workers out of dangerous situations, with no recorded injuries during their use so far.
Cadent head of operations for London, James Harrison, said: “CISBOTs work in The Strand and Oxford Street last year was so successful that we’re now rolling the robots out across our London network, where they’ll help us to do work faster, smoother and more economically than ever before.
“In many instances the robo-revolution will be happening beneath Londoners feet without them even knowing it as the technology is very low impact.
“However, people should increasingly notice the tangible benefits CISBOT brings including less above ground disruption and the continued provision of safe and reliable gas supplies.”
Sam Wilson, ULC director of UK operations, added: “There’s obviously different nuances to each different type of material, we’ve done the hard part, which is developing the platform that can go into these places safely, so it’s about expanding our capabilities. Of course it takes time, but none of it’s unachievable.”
The technology will also be rolled out in the City of Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington, Lambeth, Richmond Upon Thames, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and the City of London.