July 5, 2024
Kyle Wiggers
Water HQ


Climate change is exacerbating the risk, frequency, and financial impact of sewage system failures. Increased incidents of flooding are overwhelming wastewater treatment facilities, highlighting the urgent need for modernized infrastructure. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that an investment nearing $700 billion is necessary over the next two decades merely to uphold current wastewater, stormwater, and clean water pipeline networks in the United States.

Matthew Rosenthal and Billy Gilmartin, both with backgrounds in the wastewater treatment sector, identified an opportunity to address these challenges through technology. Five years ago, they co-founded SewerAI, leveraging artificial intelligence to automate data capture and defect identification in sewer inspections.

"Most of our infrastructure was constructed post-World War II and is now reaching the end of its operational lifespan," noted Rosenthal to TechCrunch. "SewerAI introduces a revolutionary AI-driven software-as-a-service platform for underground infrastructure inspection and management."

Originally a personal project for Rosenthal, who had embarked on online AI courses after co-founding two wastewater analysis firms, SewerAI gained momentum when Gilmartin, then employed at a sewer inspection company, joined forces. Today, SewerAI serves a diverse clientele including municipalities, utilities, and private contractors, offering cloud-based AI-powered subscription products designed to streamline field inspections and data management of sewer infrastructure.

Among its offerings, Pioneer enables field inspectors to upload inspection data to the cloud and annotate issues, facilitating project managers in planning pipe repairs. AutoCode, another tool, automatically annotates inspections of pipes and manholes, generating 3D models of infrastructure from footage captured on devices like GoPro cameras.

"In contrast to traditional providers offering outdated on-premise or truck-based software, SewerAI's technology enhances operational efficiency by enabling more inspections per day at reduced costs," Rosenthal emphasized.

In the emerging market of AI-assisted pipe inspection, SewerAI faces competition from firms like Subterra, which maps and analyzes pipeline issues, ClearObject, specializing in software for damage analysis from inspection footage, and Pallon, developing algorithms to identify sewer problems from static images.

Rosenthal highlights SewerAI's competitive edge lies in the quality of its training data. With footage covering inspections of 135 million feet of pipes from various contractors and municipalities, while a fraction of the total 6.8 billion feet of sewer pipes nationwide, this dataset supports robust defect-detection AI models.

"Our products empower clients to proactively manage infrastructure, shifting from reactive emergency responses," Rosenthal remarked.

Investors like Innovius Capital have recognized SewerAI's potential, contributing significantly to its recent $15 million fundraising round, bringing total investment to $25 million. These funds will drive expansion into new markets, AI model refinement, team expansion, and broadening SewerAI's product lineup beyond inspection tools.

"As demand grows for our platform, enabling enhanced efficiency within existing budgets, we have secured substantial contracts," Rosenthal concluded.

By Kyle Wiggers