This is Wall E: the robot that travels and monitors drains

Isbel Lázaro.

wall e

Wall E was incorporated by the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (CABA) to carry out inspections on the storm drain network . This device has the function of identifying obstructions and cracks in advance, with the aim of preventing possible flooding in the city’s pipes.

This robot features a compact design; It has a height of 70 centimeters and four-wheel drive. It can move efficiently through mud and sediment present in drains. Equipped with an LED lamp and a 720-degree rotating camera, it has the ability to perform live broadcasts and recordings. In addition, it has enough autonomy to travel up to 500 meters without having to go to the surface.

How does Wall E work?

The movement of the robot is directed from a vehicle. In a booth that resembles a mobile television control center, an operator from the Ministry of Public Space and Urban Hygiene of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (CABA) examines the images on a screen, looking for possible warning signs. While moving, Wall E can detect objects blocking ducts and cracks that require repair.

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The purpose of using this device is to prevent the collapse of drains , avoiding flooding in the streets and anticipating possible structural collapses that could affect road infrastructure and cause accidents.

Christian Parrone, Maintenance Manager of the General Directorate of the Rainwater System, explained: “The function of the robot is to be able to make observations and verify the status of the stormwater network conduit. The benefits of being able to enter Wall E into the rainwater pipe is to verify that we do not have broken pipes, with cracks, with dilated joints, which means that the water can drain freely under the surface and above that we do not have any subsidence in road and avoid any type of danger“.

The robot also acts in emergency cases. “A while ago we had flooding in one of the City’s avenues and we couldn’t detect what the problem was. With the robot we saw that in a drain there was a 20-liter paint bucket that was acting as a plug. We extracted it and the conduit was suitable for the water to drain normally.”, exemplified the expert.

That’s not all, as Wall E identified various objects in the drains, ranging from wood to fragments of mattresses that slide down the drains. In addition, it detected the presence of plastic bags, bottles and Styrofoam cups, elements that could clog the ducts if they are not detected in a timely manner.

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