Home » ULC and SGN trial roadworks robot in Surrey [WATCH]

ULC and SGN trial roadworks robot in Surrey [WATCH]

by Sion Geschwindt
ULC and SGN trial roadworks robot in Surrey [WATCH]

US firm ULC Technologies and UK gas network developer SGN have teamed up to trial “the world’s first” Robotic Roadworks & Excavation System (RRES).

The robot was unveiled on 28th April ahead of its first trial in the UK – on SGN’s gas network in Epsom, Surrey.

Following three years of development and funding from energy regulator Ofgem, RRES is an all-electric autonomous robot that can carry out the entire end-to-end excavation process for roadworks.

Equipped with a concrete cutting chainsaw, RRES can cut any shape into a road surface. It does this by sensing the hardness of the surface and adjusting the cutting speed and strength of the chainsaw.

It also uses supersonic air nozzles to agitate the soil, which is then removed with vacuum suction. The tool head uses sensors to detect any asset close to it avoiding damage and keeping field teams safe.

RRES can scan below ground using artificial intelligence to map underground pipes and cables before any digging takes place, to avoid utility strikes.

John Richardson, SGN head of innovation, said: “Typically, accurate robotic systems are found inside protected and controlled environments. RRES takes this technology into the field, mounting a robotic arm on a track to make the system mobile. It will help reduce risks to our engineers while providing them with new skills and state-of-the-art equipment.”

Ali Asmari, ULC Technologies director of infrastructure automation, said: “Using a robotic arm on a mobile platform in an excavation environment will allow RRES to improve efficiency and worker safety by automating parts of the operation.

“The precision and repeatability of the robotic arm will provide highly accurate data to locate below ground assets and will help to identify the most strategic location to cut a keyhole excavation.”

Following the initial trial in Surrey, RRES will travel north for its next round of trials in SGN’s network in Scotland later this year.

Image: The RRES (Credit: SGN)

Read next: Five robotics specialists set to change the face of construction in 2022

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