And it could save cities hundreds of millions of dollars.
Maintaining sewer systems is difficult and expensive. Water pipes must be examined for wear and tear regularly, and that means paying inspectors on a regular basis to examine many miles of sewers using small cameras at the ends of long, flexible rods.
Now, researchers at Aalborg University in Denmark say they've invented a futuristic way to save cities hundreds of millions of dollars. They propose using surveillance robots to roam complex underground systems of pipes to check if any of them are in need of replacing.
Robot Sewer Rats
To aid the robots, researchers are hoping to harness the power of machine learning. These algorithms can help the robot's sensors find irregularities in the pipes.
Once a robot has identified a pipe that needs to be replaced or fixed, it can pass that information on to human inspectors. That means the costs of paying inspectors is greatly reduced, since they only have to intervene if they really have to.
Somebody Call Elon
A lot of testing still has to be done to see if this kind of thing could actually work on a large scale. But companies like TinyMobileRobots are already working on small, remote controlled surveyor robots that could give researchers a leg up.
The Danish researchers are hoping this kind of innovation could also actually make cities money by exporting the tech to other places around the world.
Maybe they should pitch the idea to Elon Musk. He's really into digging tunnels right now.
READ MORE: Robots in sewers will save society millions
More on digging tunnels: Elon Musk: First Boring Company Tunnel Will Open December 10