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Macomb County using AI and drones to inspect sewer lines

AI drones to be used in Macomb County sewer drains for inspections
AI drones to be used in Macomb County sewer drains for inspections 02:29

MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - The Macomb County Public Department unveiled a state-of-the-art technology on Monday it uses 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 the thing of note, I think, is for the ratepayers: as I said, we're paying millions of dollars; we're paying millions of dollars for inspections; and we actually purchased this drone and software package for less than $100,000 — a pretty good bang for your buck, I would say," Miller said. 

Vince Astorino, the Macomb County Public Works Operations Manager, said municipalities have been burdened with lengthy manual inspections that can take a long time to complete, but not anymore. 

"Sometimes it would be months before a pipe would be inspected; now we go out into the field and get the footage, turn it over to Sewer AI, and we have a 10-day maximum turnaround time, but a lot of times they're turning around the data within 24 hours," Astorino said. 

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

The county gave a detailed demonstration of what the drones and software see and how they are able to identify potential issues moving forward. 

"It's just an incredibly huge difference in how we are going to be doing our inspections going forward," Miller said. 

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