SGN NIC robotics innovation project

RPS was awarded the role of Technical Service Provider to support the development of robotic solutions for the Great Britain gas distribution network.

Key details

Project name

  • SGN NIC Robotics Innovation Project


  • Power and gas networks


  • Port Houston


  • UK

Services provided

  • Energy
  • Health and safety
  • Innovation


This role entailed providing technical review and assessment of all stages of the project development, from conceptual designs through to live field testing, and involved high-level collaboration with SGN and ULC Robotics, the manufacturer of the robotic systems.

The project was considered one of national importance, not only to SGN but to the industry as a whole, in terms of:

  • Substantial savings in public disruption on roadways and costs of permanent excavation and reinstatement
  • Reduction in gas leakage and resulting repair costs thus reducing SGN's operating costs, including road congestion charges
  • Further proof of positive innovation to give 'value for money' in the GB gas industry over the RIIO GD1 price control period


RPS ensured that the robotic systems developed could perform the requirements as set out by Ofgem (the British Regulatory Authority) and its conditions of funding, while also optimising the performance of the systems and ensuring that they could be safely utilised in a live gas environment. The impacts these world-first robotic systems could have on the risk evaluation of metallic pipes in the UK was also assessed by RPS.

A conceptual method was developed as to how these systems could be used to adjust network risk scoring (MPRS), depending on the results of the assessment and repair. The project culminated in the successful field trial of both systems on live gas mains in London.

The project was awarded the Engineers Ireland Excellence Award for Technical Innovation of the Year 2016.

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