Council Ropes in Robot to Try to Fix Pothole Crisis

The UK’s pothole crisis only ever seems to get worse, and now AI is being brought in to try and fix what humans apparently can’t

Filled-in road. - Robotiz3d

AI is being brought in to help fix the UK’s roads, with new robots being deployed by one local authority.

The local authority in question is Hertfordshire County Council, which is introducing a robot from the tech firm Robotiz3d, which has previously received £30,000 in government funding, to improve its ability to fix the roads in its jurisdiction.

The robot, referred to as ARRES (Autonomous Road Repair System) is developed by academics at the University of Liverpool in conjunction with Robotiz3d, and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse the characteristics of a pothole or other road defect before “automatically” filling the hole in, Hertfordshire County Council says. By quickly filling holes and cracks, it is hoped that surface water will be kept from falling into them, thus preventing the holes from reappearing.

The robot has recently completed a first test outside the laboratory in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire on 6 March.

Following the test, Councillor Reena Ranger, Deputy Executive Member for Highways at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “The test today is another step in the right direction towards solving the pothole problem this country faces. 

“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.”

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.”

A video of ARRES in action can be viewed above.

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Lead image credit: Robotiz3d.