The UK has announced a £26.6 million investment which should help scientists from 4 British universities create tiny robots aimed at repairing its underground pipe network and subsea inspection.
These 1 cm-long robotic devices will use sensors and navigation systems to find and mend cracks in pipes.
A further 14 projects backed by the government will see robots sent to hazardous work places such as offshore wind farms and nuclear decommissioning facilities.
Researchers will test new technologies, such as the use of artificial intelligence (AI) software on satellites in orbit to detect when repairs are needed, and drones for oil pipeline monitoring.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) chief executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said:
“The projects announced today demonstrate how robots and artificial intelligence will revolutionise the way we carry out complex and dangerous tasks, from maintaining offshore wind farms to decommissioning nuclear power facilities.
“They also illustrate the leading role that the UK’s innovators are playing in developing these new technologies which will improve safety and boost productivity and efficiency.”