Following a successful build stage, Project GRAID was put through its paces in several weeks of gruelling testing. These were carried out at atmospheric pressure and allowed the GRAID team to ensure all of the motors, cameras, electronics and control systems were working as they should.
The GRAID robot exceeded expectations and managed to navigate round the majority of the test rig, driving around 90 degree bends, equal tee and reducing diameter sections and the 45 degree incline. After every test the robot was also successfully bought back to the launch vessel for visual checks.
This was a major milestone and very significant for all those who have spent upwards of 2 years planning and building GRAID, to see it navigate the test rig for the first time.
Driving the GRAID robot is not as simple as you might imagine, with 4 individual drive motors, the umbilical management system, many cameras and the non-destructive testing (NDT) sensors all to control it can take a while to proficiently operate GRAID. This was one of the key reasons the test rig was built and over the coming months the Pipeline Maintenance Centre (PMC) operatives from National Grid will need to learn how to use GRAID safely inside the pipeline.
Once the tests at atmospheric pressure have been completed the test rig will be pressurised to match the National Transmission System and flow will be added using fans to emulate the conditions expected on a National Grid site.