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NTT develops trenchless digging robot.

TOKYO, July 3 Kyodo

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) said Tuesday it has developed what it claims to be the world's first robot capable of digging underground tunnels without generating waste soil.

The ''mole robot,'' developed by an institute under NTT, makes the presence of road excavation crews unnecessary when installing underground cables, leading to fewer traffic jams and less noise, NTT said in a press release.

The robot consists of a digging module measuring 35 centimeters in diameter and 270 cm in length, and a box-shaped main machine measuring 258 cm by 140 cm by 270 cm.

The main machine must first be installed underground to function. Once it is buried at the appropriate depth, it can be operated via cables from above ground, eliminating the need for open trench excavations.

The robot can dig a tunnel of up to 250 meters long in one-third of the time required by conventional systems, and at about half the cost, NTT said. Environmental impact and traffic congestion are also reduced by the lack of excavation required.

During the digging process, the module uses vibration to advance through the soil without actually excavating it, even through hard ground.

NTT said it plans to use the robot for installation of underground cables in the current fiscal year to March 2002.
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Publication:NTT Topics
Date:Jul 9, 2001
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