Pothole problem to be solved by robotic 'world first'

Pothole problem to be solved by robotic 'world first'

AI robot is set to tackle pothole problem in world first


Potholes are the bane of every driver, but a new AI robot is being introduced by Hertfordshire County Council to tackle the issue.

With approximately one million potholes across the country, there are six potholes per mile on council-controlled roads in England and Wales, according to the RAC's estimations, potholes are a widespread problem.

Not to mention how dangerous these can be, as they can not only damage your car and risk the safety of drivers, pedestrians and cyclists while fixing potholes costs the taxpayer millions of pounds year after year.

A further £200m was pledged by the UK government at the end of last year to address the ongoing situation, however it barely scratches the surface when compared to the Local Government Association's whopping £14bn estimation needed to address the pothole backlog across the country.

Now, Hertfordshire County Council is seeking the help of artificial intelligence as a possible solution with the autonomous robot, developed by tech company Robotiz3d and academics at the University of Liverpool.

So far, the robot - named Autonomous Road Repair System (ARRES) - has successfully passed its first test outside of a lab environment, which took place on March 6 on the roads of Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, the RAC announced.

Thanks to AI software, ARRES can notice the characterises of potholes and other defects, and then automatically fill them in to keep out surface water.

By doing this, it will prevent the potholes from forming in the first place which in the long term will save both time and money.

The council believes ARRES could "revolutionise the way Hertfordshire and the rest of the world deal with potholes and issues with road surfaces in the future".

Following the successful test, the next step for the team to go ahead with full production of the robot and are looking to build a larger version of the machine.

Cllr Reena Ranger, Deputy Executive Member for Highways at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “After another wet winter, we know we’re likely to see an increase in potholes forming as the road surface recovers from water getting into cracks.

“That’s why we’ve worked hard to fix over 40,000 potholes this year through the trial of new techniques and using this cutting-edge technology we could potentially prevent the potholes forming in the first place.

“We’re committed to maintaining our road network so that it remains one of the best in the country – we’re excited for the time we can welcome PREVENT officially to our team.”

Technology and Decarbonisation Minister, Anthony Browne MP, said: “This innovative technology has the potential to transform how we perform road maintenance and enhance the driver experience across Hertfordshire and beyond.

“It is said a stitch in time saves nine, and that prevention is better than cure - and likewise stopping cracks from growing into potholes could save a lot of future maintenance work.

“We’re committed to supporting businesses with bright ideas to improve our transport system, and have provided over £30,000 through our Transport Research and Innovation Grants to help Robotiz3d realise their vision for pothole-free roads.”

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