[I]t looks like the Golden Snitch from a game of Quidditch in Harry Potter, but is actually a new engineering device to help speed up roadworks.
In a UK first, engineers from United Utilities have used this high-tech ‘smart ball’ in a project to repair a sewer pipe on Glebe Road, Windermere.
The ball uses acoustics, electromagnetics and sonar to measure the health of pipework, and detect faults. The device avoids the need to dig up the road to assess the condition of the main, and can be used while the pipe is still flowing.
The Glebe Road repair is the first time the technology, developed in Canada, has been used in the UK. The smart ball was placed into the sewer at one end and collected downstream at the other. Engineers were then able to retrieve the ball and analyse the data to help them plan the repair.
United Utilities has already begun to lay a temporary overland pipe to keep the sewer network flowing while they repair the Glebe Road pipe, which has burst several times in recent months.
The repair work itself, which will take place in early July, will see a new sewer pipe inserted inside the shell of the old pipe, avoiding the need to dig up the road.
Gaynor Murphy, stakeholder manager for United Utilities said: “We need to carry out this repair in a busy part of Windermere, at a busy time of year, so everything is being done to minimise inconvenience.
“Using the smart ball, and threading a new pipe into the old one, means we can get the job done more quickly, without digging up the road.”