Someone within government has fallen for the hype about robots being able to do anything more than shit themselves when confronted by some stairs, and genuinely believes that they may be able to do the tasks currently undertaken by our brave all-weather armies of men in fluorescent jackets. So much so that millions of pounds have been set aside to look at the potential to roboticise the underground maintenance works of the distant future.
£7m, to be exact, is to be shared between four UK universities investigating how -- and indeed if -- small micro-robots of around one centimetre in length can be any use at all in fixing leaky water pipes. We can't imagine they can or ever will, but you never know. It's a lot of money so they're going to have to come up with something. The idea is that if this concept can somehow be made to work, we'll be free from the type of roadwork that pops up when leaking water pipes need digging up and replacing, making life marginally better for angry men in cars who get one day nearer having a stroke for each mile they're made to drive at 50mph.
Exactly how these tiny robots will actually fix the leaks they find isn't mentioned. Maybe they'll have little rucksacks full of solder? The announcement says they use "sensors" and that's the only explanation of the tech to be used. [GOV]
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