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Macomb County uses AI and drones to inspect sewer lines

MACOMB COUNTY, MI (CBS DETROIT) – The Macomb County Public Health Department on Monday unveiled a state-of-the-art technology it is using to inspect its underground sewer lines.

“We need to be able to inspect all of our critical underground infrastructure on a very regular basis,” said Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller.

Miller said the county will now use drones and SewerAI software to inspect sewer lines more frequently and at a significantly lower cost.

“And what stands out, I think, is for the taxpayers, like I said, we’re paying millions of dollars; we pay millions of dollars for inspections; and we actually bought this drone and software package for less than $100,000. – a pretty good bang for your buck, I’d say,” Miller said.

Macomb County Public Works Manager Vince Astorino said municipalities are burdened with lengthy manual inspections that can take a lot of time, but that is no longer the case.

“Sometimes it would take months for a pipe to be inspected; now we go into the field and retrieve the images, transfer it to Sewer AI, and we have a maximum turnaround time of ten days, but often they’ll get the data in Turn around 24 hours,” Astorino said.

Miller said taxpayers could potentially see lower costs in the future because the county can now get a better view of underground infrastructure long before a potential multi-million dollar disaster could occur.

The province provided a detailed demonstration of what the drones and software see and how they can identify potential problems in the future.

“It’s just an incredibly big difference in how we’re going to conduct our inspections going forward,” Miller said.