SOLO – The Autonomous Robot That Changed an Industry
In 2009, RedZone Robotics introduced SOLO®, the world’s first unmanned, autonomous sewer inspection robot, radically changing the way collection system owners approached asset management. Equipped with dual panospheric cameras, SOLO provides clear, robust video and imagery with 360-degree virtual pan, tilt, and zoom capability. SOLO is compact and lightweight making deployments fast and easy, with squads of up to 4 being deployed simultaneously. Daily production rates are up to six times greater than traditional CCTV systems. Not only does SOLO cut timelines and cost, it’s also battery powered, rendering generators and fossil fuel unnecessary and creating a substantially reduced carbon bootprint.
SOLO has been the cornerstone of complete, system-wide inspections with RedZone’s ASAP, Accelerated System Assessment Program, for cities like Midland, Michigan. These cities benefit from fast and efficient inspection processes, enabling owners and consultants to better understand not only the problems that exist in their collection system, but pinpoint where they exist with rapid assessment.
In 2017, after a week of wet weather, The City of Midland experienced a heavy rainfall event that resulted in historic flow levels at the wastewater treatment plant. This not only damaged the plant and collection system infrastructure, but also caused a large overflow (SSO). The rainfall also led to significant flooding, which resulted in the second highest recorded river level on the Tittabawassee River and numerous basement floods across the City. The City staff and Engineering Consultants determined that CCTV assessment and cleaning of the 210-mile Sanitary Sewer System and flow monitoring in the Priority 1 areas would help calibrate hydraulic models to better improve the recommendations, and cost efficiency, for meeting the Levels of Service required. This information would also be used for future planning, as a baseline condition of the system would be established. With time of the essence, SOLO was utilized to rapidly assess over 80% of the system in a matter of months.
In 2021, the City of Rochester Hills (MI) selected RedZone Robotics for inspection services for sanitary sewers and manholes using multiple technologies, including SOLO, to obtain detailed pipeline and manhole condition data capable of guiding future operations and maintenance decisions. The City’s sanitary sewer collection system consists of over 350 miles of pipe, ranging in size from 6” to 48” in diameter, and over 6,000 access structures (manholes), all of which would require inspection.
To efficiently operate a dependable sanitary sewer collection system, it is vital to know and understand the condition of the system so that strategic capital improvements can be planned and budgeted accordingly. SOLO was used to assess over 90% of the pipes in Rochester Hills, and all manholes, in the system. Many of the manholes in the City’s collection system were known to be inaccessible with traditional equipment and vehicles, however, SOLO technology specifically addressed this challenge, allowing access to nearly every structure without the need for conventional CCTV systems and trucks. Based on the City’s knowledge of the work, and areas in which work was to be performed, it was apparent that RedZone Robotics’ approach would yield the desired data collection, pipe and manhole condition assessment ratings, and the standing up of a software application for system evaluation and capital investment. In the fall of 2021, RedZone completed the inspection of 127 miles (670,000+ LF) of sanitary sewer pipe in 30 days, a remarkable feat by industry standards.
SOLO has been the cornerstone technology of over 100 system-wide ASAP projects throughout North America. Nearly 100 million feet of clear, actionable data has been captured with SOLO robots, providing unrivaled infrastructure intelligence to system owners and operators as they meet the challenge to care for aging systems. As we celebrate Trenchless Technology’s 30th anniversary, we also celebrate SOLO as one of the innovations that shaped the industry over the past few decades. SOLO is the small robot with a huge impact!