Water supply and utility company Yorkshire Water has added unmanned aerial vehicles to its arsenal to inspect its network of water pipes across the county.
The firm is deploying UAV technology to help it identify leaks on its underground pipe network in York and Rotherham in a bid to save millions of litres of water escaping from its pipe network.
The unmanned systems will be flying along 30km of underground water pipes, stretching from York to Rotherham, and will be used to conduct topographical surveys and geo-locate hard to find assets, such as inspection chambers, which will enable Yorkshire Water to spot leaks that it might not previously have known about.
The introduction of drones forms part of a wider scheme by the company to adopt a contemporary technology, including space satellites, to help deliver a new ‘predict and prevent’ approach to the maintenance of its infrastructure.
Across Yorkshire, there are over 31,000km of mains network that deliver over one billion litres of water everyday to homes and business across the region.
Simon Roxby, UAV manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “The use of drone technology is increasing every day throughout the business and provides great visibility of hard to reach parts of our pipe network, our reservoirs and our land. This innovation not only gives us a greater understanding regarding the condition of our infrastructure, but also allows us to inspect and survey at height in a safer and more efficient way.”
Specialised sensors will be fitted into the drones with this information used to create 3D models of pipe networks to help detect leaks.
Adam Tate, UAV operations manager at Team UAV, added: “The technology we’re using to deliver this project on behalf of Yorkshire Water is truly ground-breaking. By fusing together a range of high precision sensors with millimetre accuracy, flown concurrently, we’re able to deliver data that isn’t visible to the human eye.”
The work forms part of a wider multi-million pound package announced last week by Yorkshire Water that will create 300 new jobs to help the firm become a top performer in the water sector.