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World’s first autonomous robot to detect potholes with AI coming to UK streets in 2021


Almost two million potholes are fixed every year, yet more are appearing on UK roads each day. Unfortunately, fixing it through conventional methods is a labour-intensive, time-consuming, and expensive task. According to DailyMail, the cost of repairing all of the UK’s roads that are currently damaged is estimated to over £10 billion. 

Robot to patrol the streets in search of potholes

As an alternate option, researchers are building autonomous robots that will use AI to identify and fix potholes in UK roads. University spin-out, Robotiz3d Ltd. is developing the world’s first autonomous robot to patrol the streets in search of potholes, following the successful private investment. This first equity round for Robotiz3d involved a cash injection from A2E Industries and the University of Liverpool.

Dr. Paolo Paoletti, CTO, Robotiz3d, said, “The Robotiz3d solution will autonomously identify and localise potholes, characterise their geometry and collect measurements on the go. The ability to automatically deposit sealing material, fixing small cracks before they evolve into potholes, is also a first.”

Plans to roll out in 2021

The spin-out company is planning to put its robots, which looks like a cross between a road roller and a tank on UK streets in 2021.

Amin Amiri, CEO of A2E Industries, commented, “This is a true innovation that can help the UK save public money and save hassle for the citizens. We’re confident in Robotiz3d and its highly capable engineering and management team to bring this much-needed technology to market. The technology could eventually solve one of the most endemic worldwide problems of the logistics and transport industry, with transformative impact.” 

Uses AI

Backed by four years of research, and two patent-pending technologies, the Robotiz3d solution could see autonomous robots with AI scouring UK roads with the ability to identify existing potholes and repair cracks before they have a chance to develop.

Dr. Paolo Paoletti added, “These features, coupled with a prediction algorithm to help prioritise work schedules, are anticipated to improve the safety and lifespan of road networks, make maintenance tasks COVID-resilient, and contribute to reductions in road repair costs, fuel consumption, GHG emission, and tyre wear.”

Hertfordshire County Council is currently leading the pack in collaborative activities with the company and is not only one of the leading highways asset management practitioners in the UK, but also the winner of the `Best Use of New Technology in the Highway Industry 2019’. 

Phil Bibby, Executive Member for Highways and Environment said: “We are delighted to offer our expertise and help embed real-life practical requirements into the development. It’s exciting to be part of the progress and we are keen to trial the prototype.”