Crews Find Woman's Body In Storm Drain With Help Of Maintenance Robots

When rescue crews searched for a woman’s body that was believed to have been swept away into a drainage pipe because of heavy rains, the city’s robots were deployed. Crews dropped the device underground and say they found the exact location of the woman’s body.

Wednesday, April 3rd 2024, 5:42 pm

By: Cal Day


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When rescue crews searched for a woman’s body that was believed to have been swept away into a drainage pipe because of heavy rains, the city’s robots were deployed. Crews dropped the device underground and say they found the exact location of the woman’s body.

Related: Firefighters Recover Woman's Body That Was Swept '100 Feet' Into A Storm Drain Overnight

Stormwater maintenance supervisor Roy Teeters believes this is the first time the device has been used like this. They are usually roaming through the city’s underground pipes, looking for defects.

“We send the camera up there to identify what the problem is and to accurately locate the area of the problem so when we start excavating, we’re excavating in the right spot,” said Teeters.

In addition to saving time and money, Teeters says the robots are much safer.

“Decades ago, you used to have to crawl up the sewer lines to find what was wrong with it,” he said. “Now, we don’t have to crawl up them. We’re able to send a camera.”

When the robot is put to work, it is not operating by itself. Instead, it is being controlled by operators who have a front-row seat to all the action.

The mobile command center travels with each robot each time it is sent underground. The robot is hardwired to the trailer, and a video game-like controller moves it up and down the pipes.

While operators often find rocks, sand and gravel, they have also seen some surprises.

“Toys, bicycles, chairs, furniture of different sizes,” said Teeters.

Using underground cameras is not a new concept for the city, but Teeters says the camera on the two robots have improved greatly in the last ten years. Teeters expects to see even more calls for help from fire and police, especially after Tuesday’s recovery.

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