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Pittsburgh-produced robot to provide Cranberry officials view of sewer line

| Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, 5:00 p.m.
This is one of the RedZone Robotics Profiler Products that will be used to inspect the Cranberry sewer system.
This is one of the RedZone Robotics Profiler Products that will be used to inspect the Cranberry sewer system.

A robot designed and built in Pittsburgh is about to make life a whole lot easier for Cranberry officials.

A two-mile stretch of the main sewer line in Cranberry, from Rochester Road to the Brush Creek treatment plant, this month will be captured with high-definition cameras attached to an autonomous tractor.

The device is one of many built and operated at RedZone in Lawrenceville.

Portions of the sewer line were examined about five years ago with a camera tethered to a cable and a crew of employees, whereas the robot can cover a lot more ground in a much shorter amount of time, Cranberry Sewer and Water Field Manager Joe Leavens said.

“They just drop it in and let it go,” Leavens said.

Before the 2013 construction of a second large sewer line to match an increase of residents, it wasn't practical to shut off the flow of sewage to allow an inspection of the main line, according to the Cranberry Township website.

The Cranberry Board of Supervisors on Sept. 23 approved a $20,000 contract with RedZone, which Leavens said is less expensive than if crews inspected the entire pipe manually. He said it's also less of a disturbance to the ground and to residents.

Redzone robots so far have been used in 200 cities in the U.S. and a few internationally. Many of the 75 employees are graduates of local universities, Vice President of Business Development Sam Cancilla said.

If the robot used in Cranberry captures a section of pipe that's corroded, officials could opt for a second run with sonar and laser capability to detect exactly how many inches of pipe are worn, Cancilla said.

Cancilla said the sonar and laser technology offers an assessment of the corrosion not possible with just a camera.

“It's like if you go to a doctor for an X-ray, and they want to get a better look with an MRI.”

The project shouldn't take more than 30 days, during which time Cranberry officials will maintain dialogue with experts at RedZone.

“They'll review the images and rate the pipe, then we'll review it,” Leavens said.

Kyle Lawson is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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