The European Union TRACT project is developing an innovative propeller-driven pipe inspection robot that can inspect pipes while minimizing contact with the pipes themselves. Robots currently used to carry out internal inspections of pipes move on rubber tires on treads. As these treads make contact with the inside of pipes, rust particles are dislodged and end up coming out of taps and faucets.
However, this new pipe inspection robot has propellers that give it the power it needs to move as well as spring-loaded finds that only brush against pipes very lightly, preventing the bulk of the robot from scraping against the pipe.
The robots can move forwards or backwards through pipes as small as 10 centimeters in diameter. They measure the thickness of pipes using ultrasound signals.