Robots vs. Fatbergs: High-Tech Approaches to America’s Sewer Problem
Snaking beneath our feet, all across America, are hundreds of thousands of miles of dark, dank tunnels. These channels for wastewater and storm water are, according to those who explore them for a living, home to all manner of hazards, including creatures (rats and alligators), obstructions (“fatbergs” and mineral deposits), and poison gasses concentrated enough to eat through concrete.
Keeping those aging, subterranean arteries from spilling their toxic contents is enormously complicated and costs tens of billions of dollars a year more than U.S. cities can afford to pay. Which is why cities and the service contractors they rely on are deploying an array of technological tools that boast the potential to explore, diagnose and repair sewer systems in new and more affordable ways.