BURROW: Horizontal Drilling X-Ray Vision For Utility Undergrounding

BURROW is a utility “undergrounding” technology that provides X-ray vision for horizontal drilling for utilities.

BURROW is a novel “undergrounding” technology that optimizes the process of horizontal drilling for utilities. BURROW is being developed to help prevent catastrophes like the Lahaina Maui Fires, the California Paradise wildfires, or the 2021 Great Texas Freeze, which were caused by vulnerable overhead power lines.

BURROW (Borehole Underground Reconnaissance and Real-time Obstacle Wayfinder) utilizes Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) networked with AI-infused subterranean drill heads, enabling them to detect and avoid existing utilities, such as cables or pipes, in the tunneling path. The sensor suite will generate high-resolution data and real-time guidance for drilling paths.

“Undergrounding” has always been a safer option for utilities, but it comes at a significantly high price and longer time to install than traditional overhead lines. BURROW aims to make resilient utility tunneling as cheap and fast as installing overhead power lines.

BURROW is a key innovation to modernize America’s power infrastructure using climate-resilient, cost-effective, and high-speed undergrounding technology. This effort is part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)’s Grid Overhaul with Proactive, High-Speed Undergrounding for Reliability, Resilience, and Security (GOPHURRS) program and is partnered with Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering. GOPHURRS complements the President’s “Investing in America” agenda and recent National Infrastructure and Climate legislation.

BURROW drastically reduces the time and cost of horizontal directional drilling via “look-ahead sensing” that pairs UAVs with smart drill-heads and machine learning AI. We vastly improve the rate and accuracy of drilling while avoiding obstacles, such as existing pipes.

Key Data:

BURROW makes resilient utility tunneling as cheap and fast as installing overhead power lines.