SewerAI Using AI to Automate Wastewater Industry

Climate change increases the risk, frequency, and cost of sewage system failures. More frequent flooding is causing backups that often overwhelm wastewater treatment facilities. America’s outdated infrastructure further compounds this problem, with the EPA estimating that nearly $700 billion will be needed over the next 20 years to maintain existing wastewater, stormwater, and other clean water pipelines.

Matthew Rosenthal and Billy Gilmartin, veterans of the wastewater treatment industry, recognized the opportunity to address this issue with technology. Five years ago, they co-founded SewerAI, a company that leverages AI to automate data capture and defect tagging in sewer inspections.

Rosenthal said, “Most infrastructure was built post-WW2 and is reaching the end of its useful life, leading to more frequent failures and increased costs. SewerAI revolutionizes underground infrastructure inspection and management with its AI-driven software-as-a-service platform.”

SewerAI started as a side project for Rosenthal, who had begun taking online courses on AI after co-founding two wastewater analysis and services firms. While experimenting with AI models to predict sewer defects in inspection videos, Rosenthal enlisted the help of Billy Gilmartin, who was then employed at a sewer inspection company.

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Image Credits: SewerAI

Today, SewerAI serves municipalities, utilities, and private contractors by offering cloud-based, AI-powered subscription products that enhance the efficiency of sewer infrastructure inspections and data management.

One such product, Pioneer, enables field inspectors to upload inspection data to the cloud and tag issues. Project managers can then utilize this data to plan necessary pipe repairs. Another tool, AutoCode, automatically tags inspections of pipes and manholes, generating 3D models of the infrastructure from videos captured by a GoPro or other cameras.

“Legacy incumbents offer on-premise or on-truck software that has seen very little innovation in the last 20 years. SewerAI’s technology increases top and bottom lines by enabling more inspections per day at a lower cost.” said Rosenthal.

SewerAI operates in the emerging field of AI-assisted pipe inspection, competing with several other companies. Subterra maps, analyzes, and forecasts pipeline issues; ClearObject provides software that analyzes inspection footage for damage; and Pallon develops algorithms to identify potential problems in sewers from still images.

AI-assisted pipe inspection
Image Credits: SewerAI

According to Rosenthal, what distinguishes SewerAI is the superior quality of its training data. SewerAI boasts inspection footage of 135 million feet of pipes from municipalities and independent contractors. Although this represents only a small portion of the 6.8 billion feet of sewer pipes in the U.S., Rosenthal asserts that it is a sufficiently large dataset to train an effective AI for detecting defects.

Rosenthal said, “Our products streamline field inspections and data management, enabling clients to proactively manage infrastructure instead of reacting to emergencies,” He continued, “SewerAI is continuing to grow, and we’re seeing an acceleration in demand for our platform as we enable people to do more with existing budgets, which has resulted in us closing our first seven-figure contracts.” 

SewerAI’s compelling sales pitch attracted investors such as Innovius Capital, leading to a $15 million infusion in the company’s latest fundraising round. This brings SewerAI’s total funding to $25 million. The new capital will be allocated towards market expansion, further training of AI models, hiring additional staff, and broadening SewerAI’s product portfolio beyond inspection tools.