NYSEARCH Project M2017-006: Liquid Capable Explorer For Inspection Of Unpiggable Pipelines With Liquid

Fig. 1: Rare case of accumulated liquid in pipeline

Fig 2: Liquid-Capable Explorer Drive Track

To further enhance the capabilities of the Explorer family of pipeline inspection robots, NYSEARCH, along with InvoDane/Intero, has successfully developed and tested the Explorer 20/26 robot’s capability to drive and scan through large and small amounts of accumulated liquid in natural gas pipelines, thereby enhancing Explorer’s efficiency and reducing inspection costs in cases where liquid is present.

The overall objective of this project was to investigate, develop and test the capabilities of the 20/26 Explorer robot and determine if it would be possible to adapt the robot to be able to traverse pipelines containing liquid. Upon conclusion of the feasibility study, which determined with some adaptations that the robot would be capable of the aforementioned maneuvers, liquid-capable drive track and magnet bar prototypes were developed and successfully integrated onto the platform enabling Explorer to navigate and scan natural gas pipelines through liquid accumulation. Additionally, the new liquid capable design will be incorporated on future generations of the Explorer (EXP) family of robotic inspection platforms (commercial service provided by Intero Integrity Services (formerly Pipetel Technologies, a subsidiary of Invodane)) to ensure all EXP robots can effectively traverse and scan through accumulated liquid.


For more than thirty years, NYSEARCH has worked as a consortium of natural gas Local Distribution Companies (LDCs) who have a common interest and need for research and technology development and demonstration. Today, as part of the Northeast Gas Association (NGA), NYSEARCH manages over (30) projects in various stages of development for LDCs, transmission companies, federal agencies and their manufacturing and commercial partners. NYSEARCH is located in Parsippany, NJ and NGA is headquartered in Needham, Massachusetts.