Finding leaky pipes with artificial intelligence

06 September 2011

Engineers at the University of Exeter have created new methods for detecting leaky pipes and identifying flood risks with technologies normally used for computer game graphics and artificial intelligence.

Existing methods for detecting leaks often result in false alarms. However, the new approach is based on technology developed in the field of artificial intelligence, implemented as a piece of software located on a computer in the control room of a water company. The system continuously receives and processes data coming from the flow and pressure sensors installed in the water system. It searches for anomalies which could indicate the presence of a leak. When a potential problem is identified, an alarm is generated to notify the control room operator of the location of the leak and suggestions of immediate actions to take to isolate it.

Computer games rely on a powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) to draw complex scenes in real time. From the first games with flat, 8-bit graphics, the power of GPUs has grown to support the current 3D graphics that feature life-like effects. University of Exeter
The researchers developed methods for using powerful graphics processing technology to assess and visualise flood risks much faster than has been possible in the past.

The research has been presented at the Computing and Control for the Water Industry 2011 conference, held at the University of Exeter from 5 to 7 September 2011.

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