A ROBO-ENGINEER has been launched by Northern Gas Networks to speed up roadworks.

The robot can travel through underground gas pipes to carry out repairs and is being used on an average of two jobs every week, saving time and money, and reducing disruption by limiting the number and size of holes that need to be dug.

Once inserted into a pipe, it can travel 250 meters and is equipped with a camera that transmits live footage of a pipe’s condition and can treat imperfections by applying a ‘flexspray’. It is being used on large diameter pipe jobs, which can be very disruptive to motorists, and expensive to carry out.

It has been nicknamed STAN, a play on the robot’s official name, STASS (System Two Access and Seal).

Richard Hynes-Cooper, Northern Gas Networks head of innovation said: “By using the robot, we can reduce the number of holes we need to dig to carry out routine repairs and maintenance on our larger pipes. This is good news for motorists, as it means fewer roadworks, and good news for the environment, as we don’t need to dig as many holes.

“STAN will also help us keep customers’ bills affordable. Early indications are that we can save £2,000 per job, by getting the work done more quickly and efficiently.”

Northern Gas Networks has around 1,700km of large diameter gas mains, stretching across Cumbria, Yorkshire and the North East – all of which require regular upkeep and assessment.