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Mapping the Underworld

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The many layers of pipes and conduits beneath streets

A new system under development will allow utility companies to locate, map and record the precise locations of buried pipes, cables and conduits, without needing to dig up streets and roads.

Credit: Trenchless International

Researchers from the universities of Southampton, Birmingham, Bath, Leeds and Sheffield are participating in the Mapping the Underworld project, which is developing a multi-sensor platform that can locate, map in three dimensions, and record the position of the United Kingdom's buried utility assets.

The platform would provide utilities with new ways to accurately track the exact location of buried gas, electric, water, and telecommunications pipes and cables, without having to excavate them.

Researchers on the project, which is nearing the end of its second four-year phase, are using ground-penetrating radar, low-frequency electro magnetics, vibro-acoustics, and magnetic-field technologies.

About four million holes are dug each year to lay, repair, or remove buried pipes and cables. However, the researchers want to give utilities the ability to assess the condition of their pipes and cables and determine whether they may need replacing without having to dig them up.

From University of Southampton (United Kingdom)
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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