The remote-controlled camera was recently used to inspect a pipe under U. S. 89 in Willard, Utah. Culverts on either end of the pipe were filling up quickly, signaling to Station Supervisor Lloyd Muhlestein that the pipe may have an obstruction.

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is using a state-of-the-art camera on wheels to view the inside of pipes and culverts.

Images from the camera are sent by closed circuit to a video viewing area so workers can easily identify structural defects or obstructions. Video images are recorded for later review.

Manpower saved, travel delay avoided

Before the equipment purchased, seeing inside pipes was impossible without digging up the road. Pipes were installed, then “out of site out of mind until a catastrophic failure,” says Hydraulics Engineer Jeff Erdman.  And, road users were inconvenienced while crews closed lanes or sometimes whole roads to excavate.  Now, time, manpower and travel delay is saved because the camera can quickly and effectively identify problems so pipes can be fixed or replaced before failure occurs.

Kelly Andrew, Facilities Maintenance in Region One, customized an empty trailer with work, storage and a viewing areas that house the camera and video equipment.

A camera of many uses

The equipment was “expensive but worth it,” says Jeff, because the camera is used during design, construction and maintenance.

“Design can be a big ordeal”  when engineers don’t know where all the utility pipes are located under a planned roadway. The camera emits a radio signal that can be followed above ground to map the location of a pipe easily.

During construction, the camera helps workers decide which pipes need to be replaced or repaired and which can be left in place. Laser on the camera allows easy measurement of cracks and joints.  The high quality video shows an accurate image of the pipe condition.

The camera is lowered into a catch basin before being rolled into a pipe under U.S 80 in Willard, Utah

Lloyd lowers the camera into a culvert before its journey into the pipe. The culverts and pipe interior were previously cleaned out by a Vactor Truck.

Maintenance workers use the camera to inspect pipes and clean up clogs.  For example, irrigation water was flooding homes along Bear Lake Highway.  Using the camera, UDOT workers found that a property owner had run electrical equipment through the drain pipe under the road, causing enough water back-up to flood homes.

Have camera, will travel

The camera, along with a Vactor truck to clean out pipes, can be used in other UDOT regions. For more information, please call Kelly Andrew, Region One Maintenance, 801- 620-1614.  The camera has been such a great advantage that another camera is being purchased for statewide use.

Kelly views images of the interior of the pipe on video equipment housed inside the trailer. He uses the camera's Laser to measure the joints and shifts the camera lens to view all angles. Kelly and Lloyd were glad see that the 50-60 year-old pipe is in good shape with no obstructions.


  1. Jerry Jones

    Remote Control at Its Best
    Remote control devices have gone a long way not only in the technological aspect, but also in its use. Although looking at pipes and checking for cracks may not be as magnificent as flying an unmanned vehicle to go after terrorists, still the practicality of its use is deserving of phrase. Remote control came into being because we all want to make our lives easier and more enjoyable. If we can find more use of radio control devices in our work places, then we’ll have more less stressed workers around. One little worry though is someone out there may think of replacing our human resources with these devices. We can automate a lot of what we do, but still, nothing can ever replace the abilities of a human being.

  2. Robert Boog

    Buying a home warranty wouldn’t be needed if remote-control cameras like this could be used when purchasing a home. A homeowner could decide which pipes need to be replaced or repaired and which can be left in place.

  3. Catherine Higgins

    UDOT now has three similar cameras. There are many manufacturers that have cameras on wheels.

  4. בוטוקס

    Fibreoptic cameras are becoming the norm. It’s good to hear there are now 3 similar camera. From the photos it seems that these cameras that UDOT purchased are a bit antiquated – maybe our roads deserve better?

  5. Catherine Higgins

    I don’t know the precise resolution but it’s good enough to precisely measure cracks in the culvert wall.

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