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Rise of the repair-bots: New movie shows how Camden gas main was fixed with a hole lot less digging using new robo technology


CISBOT technology cuts excavations needed from over 50 to 1 in successful trial in Camden

  • Repair-bots mean a ‘hole’ lot less congestion for road users
  • New movie showcasing the trailblazing new repair-bots in action is now online

National Grid has released a new online movie which shows how robot repair teams could kick-start a congestion-busting revolution in the way gas mains repair are carried out.

The new short film which has premiered online shows National Grid making history by using repair robot CISBOT to fix a leak from an 18 inch gas main under the teeming streets of Camden. This was the first time robots have fixed this size main in Great Britain.

Developed by New York based company ULC Robotics, CISBOT is controlled by a trained operator in a vehicle above ground. CISBOT enters the gas mains through a single excavation then seeks out and fixes leaking joints using a special sealant.

Phil Clarke, National Grid Head of Gas Operations in London, said: “This is a major leap forward.  In this trial we’ve been able to fix over fifty gas mains joints using just one small hole in the carriageway rather than digging fifty excavations.

“This means a massive reduction in traffic disruption and CISBOT also means we don’t have to shut off the gas while doing the repair so supplies don’t get interrupted.”

The London Borough of Camden worked closely with National Grid to facilitate the trial and the council’s Network Manager, Brian Foxton, commented: “With over 16,000 – 17,000 excavations in Camden’s roads every year any reduction in that can only be of benefit to the road users.”

Other improvements of CISBOT include less risk to engineers, less waste from excavations to send to landfill and cheaper repair costs which could lead to benefits for bill payers.

The new film also shows how National Grid is looking to use another innovation known as Lizard , in tandem with the new repair robot technology. Manufactured by Macclesfield based engineering firm DVST Ltd, Lizard is a sensory device which can assess the condition of gas mains from the inside, allowing engineers to predict if a leak is likely and remedy the problem early on.

Jeremy Bending, National Grid Director of Network Strategy for National Grid said: “We’ve got a network of 132,000km of gas mains, a lot of which is under busy roads. If we could locate leaks before they happen and send in repair robots to fix the problem we could see a massive reduction in related traffic congestion.

“Our challenge is to take innovations like CISBOT and Lizard and develop them further so they can be used across our business.”

Further CISBOT are planned this time using the Lizard sensors and Mr Bending, pledged: “Our quest for innovative repair solutions will continue so the odds are sooner or later they’ll probably be a robot fixing a gas main somewhere beneath your feet!”

To watch the new film go to:


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Antony Quarrell

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Notes to Editors:

National Grid

National Grid is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world.  We own and manage the grids that connect people to the energy they need, from whatever the source.  In Britain and the north-eastern states of the US we run systems that deliver gas and electricity to millions of people, businesses and communities.

In Britain, we run the gas and electricity systems that our society is built on, delivering gas and electricity across the country.  In the North Eastern US, we connect more than seven million gas and electric customers to vital energy sources, essential for our modern lifestyles.

National Grid in the UK:

  • We own the high-voltage electricity transmission network in England and Wales, operating it across Great Britain
  • We own and operates the high pressure gas transmission system in Britain
  • Our gas distribution business delivers gas to 11 million homes and businesses
  • We also own a number of related businesses including LNG importation, land remediation and metering
  • National Grid manages the National Gas Emergency Service free phone line on behalf of the industry - 0800 111 999 (all calls are recorded and may be monitored).
  • Our portfolio of other businesses is mainly concerned with infrastructure provision and related services where we can exploit our core skills and assets to create value. These businesses operate in areas such as Metering, Grain LNG Import, Interconnectors and Property. National Grid Carbon Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of National Grid and it undertakes Carbon Capture Storage related activities on behalf of National Grid.

National Grid in the US:

  • National Grid delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island
  • We manage the electricity network on Long Island under an agreement with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), and owns over 4,000 megawatts of contracted electricity generation, providing power to over one million LIPA customers
  • We are the largest distributor of natural gas in north-eastern U.S., serving approximately 3.4 million customers in New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.