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New Tech Could Save Trillions of Gallons of Water

You Wu grew up with water shut off half a day each week by Chinese officials seeking to conserve resources. Ten years later when he began college in the United States, he focused on water scarcity.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate, now 28, has developed a robot to find leaks in water pipes. As the robot moves with the water through a pipe, its “hands” touch the pipe and feel the suction forces caused by leaks, Wu told Business Insider. It took Wu five years to create a working prototype. Wu released the current version, Lighthouse, in January, shortly after Forbes’ 2018 ’30 Under 30′ named Wu to its list for manufacturing and industry.

Wu and his college friend, engineer Tyler Mantel, launched their company Watchtower Robotics in June to provide the technology for pilot testing before a major release.

The American Society of Civil Engineers‘ 2017 ‘Infrastructure Report Card’ estimates that there are 240,000 water-main breaks in the United States each year, equivalent to wasting more than 2 trillion gallons (7.5 trillion litres) of treated drinking water annually. About 20 percent of clean water worldwide is lost daily, according to WatchTower Robotics.

Wu’s Lighthouse was also recently named the national winner of the James Dyson Award, an international design competition. The design has won several other awards, including the 2018 Environmental Media Association Future Innovator Award, 2017 Boston HUBweek Demo Day Grand Prize, 2017 Ocean Exchange BIG Pitch Award, 2017 Booz Allen Hamilton Data Analytics Award, 2017 MIT Water Innovation Prize and the 2017 Infymaker Award. The ingenious design could help communities save water and prevent shortages caused by drought.

Read more of the article by Peter Kotecki at sciencealert.com