Work on robots that can work underground and limit the need for roads to be dug up is to be carried out at a new research facility, BT said.

It said the facility at BT Labs in Martlesham, near Ipswich, was the UK's first dedicated telecoms civil engineering robotics test lab.

It said research, inspired by moles and worms, would include how to address telecoms cabling issues.

The lab would put the UK "at the heart of research", the telecom giant said.

BT said the newly-opened 5,000 sq ft (465 sq metre) robotics research facility was designed to help the firm engage with universities and robotics start-up companies developing robotic solutions to civil engineering tasks.

It said it included addressing problems such as how to clear out blocked ducts, mend collapsed ducts and install new fibre network infrastructure without incurring the cost and delays that come with digging trenches in roads and pavements.

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