Robot dredge cleans drains at a distance

Article image - Robot dredge cleans drains at a distance MudCat keeps stormwater drains flowing minus health and safety risks.

Brisbane City Council has harnessed innovation to improve safety by using an unmanned robotic sludge and sediment dredging machine, known as a MudCat, to keep stormwater drains flowing.

The City manages approximately 3km of tidal stormwater pipes which over time lose their original hydraulic capacity due to the build-up of sediment.

Previously the only way to remove this sediment was by constructing an expensive coffer dam at the pipe outlet, using high pressure water jets which produced large volumes of sludge/slurry and sediment. The sludge was then removed with vacuum trucks and taken away for disposal at a high cost.

In larger pipes, traditional sediment removal methods required personnel to enter the confined space, exposing them to high health and safety risks.

The robotic dredge system operates completely submerged, remotely controlled from a cabin above ground.

The first of its kind to be used by a council in Australia, the MudCat dramatically reduces health and safety risks, and cost-effectively removes sediment build up helping to mitigate flood risks.

In addition to safety advantages of the robotic dredge, MudCat also offers improved environmental outcomes.

All sediment, which is considered partly contaminated, is disposed of by the contractor off site.

The MudCat process includes on site sediment separation, treatment and the safe discharge of water to the river, significantly reducing the volume of material for disposal.