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A robo-engineer that can speed up roadworks has been launched by Northern Gas Networks, the North of England’s gas distributor.

The robot, nicknamed STAN, can travel through underground gas pipes to carry out repairs.

It is being used on an average of two jobs every week, saving time and money, and reducing disruption for customers, by limiting the number and size of holes that need to be dug in the road.

Once inserted into a pipe, STAN can travel 250 meters along its length. The robot is equipped with a camera that transmits live footage of a pipe’s condition and it can treat imperfections in a pipe by applying a special ‘flexspray’.

STAN is being used on large diameter pipe jobs, which can be particularly disruptive to motorists, and expensive to carry out.

Richard Hynes-Cooper, Northern Gas Networks head of innovation said:

“By using the robot, we can reduce the number of holes we need to dig to carry out routine repairs and maintenance on our larger pipes.  This is good news for motorists,  as it means fewer roadworks, and good news for the environment, as we don’t need to dig as many holes.

“STAN will also help us keep customers’ bills affordable. Early indications are that we can save £2,000 per job, by getting the work done more quickly and efficiently.”

STAN is a play on the robot’s official name, STASS (System Two Access and Seal).

Northern Gas Networks has around 1,700km of large diameter gas mains,  stretching across Cumbria, Yorkshire and the North East – all of which require regular upkeep and assessment.

NGN engineer Gary Pickles with STAN