Innovative Robot Services From ULC Avoid Breaking Ground

In the News
December 21, 2016

Robots have already entered our daily lives, but not necessarily in ways people expect. Unheralded heroes toil around us, extending human capabilities and demonstrating new business models around robot services. Cisbot crawls beneath busy city streets, patching live natural gas lines and reducing traffic disruptions.

Hauppauge, N.Y.-based ULC Robotics Inc. has one crew in Boston, two in New York, and two more in the U.K. This month, it will add a sixth using its new Cirris diagnostic robot.

Robotics Business Review recently visited a site in Boston and got to observe ULC’s Cisbot in action.

Business Takeaways:

  • Robots as a service, or RaaS, is an increasingly popular business model for companies applying robotics and automation to serving the energy and utilities industries.
  • ULC Robotics’ Cisbot and larger Cirris robots are an innovative example of RaaS, inspecting and repairing live gas mains with minimal surface street disruption.
  • The crew members operating Cisbot in Boston are experienced with field robotics and have the skills bridging old infrastructure and cutting-edge and improving technology.

Robot services for success

Utility companies have turned to robotics as a service (RaaS) for infrastructure inspection and maintenance. ULC’s patented designs enable its robots to find and patch leaks without having to shut off service or tear up long stretches of roadways to get at aging cast-iron gas mains.

In Boston, ULC has a robot services contract with National Grid PLC. Trucks from both were present at the work site, as well as a police detail.

“RaaS makes sense from a capex [capital expenditure] point of view,” said Jay Fabian, the ULC robotics crew leader at the site. “The operation of the robot and its joint-sealing process are highly specialized. It allows utilities to extend the usable life of the pipeline, so you need a crew that...

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