How a Sydney startup is using artificial intelligence to fix sewerage pipes

«It is a very time-consuming item of work that ends up delaying any repairs in the pipes,» she said.

Ms Siqueira’s solution was to found the startup VAPAR, along with fellow engineer Michelle Aguilar.

The company is trying to automate the process using a cloud-based computer system which reviews the footage and identifies problems automatically in just minutes.

«Currently things are sometimes missed because people are fatigued by the manual process so by automating that we are picking up about 15 per cent extra defects than the manual review,» the 27-year-old said.

There are about 30,000 kilometres of underground pipes across Sydney and Ms Siqueira said it’s a huge body of work to maintain for councils and water utilities.

«A lot of them are coming to the end of their service life with many are made of clay or concrete put in between 1940 and 1970,» she said.

Although the startup now is now working with a number of clients including Northern Beaches Council and Georges River Council, the budding entrepreneur said it had been a challenge to change ingrain ways of thinking.

The two said some young people don't fully understand the commitment needed for working in startups.

The two said some young people don’t fully understand the commitment needed for working in startups. Credit:Kate Geraghty

«Having that first foot through the door especially in an emerging tech like artificial intelligence is hard as people are quite risk averse and wary,» she said.

On the broader startup culture, Ms Siqueira said many young people are seduced by the idea without understanding the full commitment it takes and how dull some of the tasks can feel.

«I think there is a mix match in terms of expectations and the actual full time 24/7 mental commitment you have got to make with no money or job security,» she said.

The plan for the startup’s future is to develop technology to allow faults to be detected before they happen.

Ben is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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