Low-cost soft sensors and robots for leak detection in operating water pipes
Author(s)Wu, You, Ph. D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering.
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Every day, about 20% of the clean water produced in the world is lost due to pipe leaks. Due to limitations in available technologies, most of the leaks are either not found, or found too late. Every year, there are 240,000 water pipe breaks in the US, and many of them cause sinkholes and other severe damage to the infrastructure. Water utilities need methods for detecting and locating such leaks before they become big breaks, so that they can perform preventative maintenance. This is to save water and protect infrastructure. This thesis presents the design, analysis, fabrication and field test validations of such a solution. I developed soft robots for early detection of leaks in water pipes when the water service is on. This work introduces four key contributions: (1) Design, fabrication and field validations of soft robots for operating water pipes (2) Design, fabrication and field validations of a tactile sensor for detecting leaks in operating water pipes (3) Differentiate leaks from false positives with a low-cost soft bending angle sensor (4) A practical, minimalism approach to the in-pipe localization, specifically for soft robots. The results are validated in simulations, lab, and field experiments. Those sensors and robots are designed to be low-cost and scalable. They are fabricated with ordinary material with ordinary tools. It is a sub-500-dollar solution to a multi-billion-dollar water and infrastructure problem.
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering, 2018.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 243-247).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology