Robot road maintenance ahead

A road maintenance robot is being developed by a University of Liverpool joint venture (JV). The technology uses AI and robotics to to detect and repair potholes and road cracks.

The robot, known as ARRES (autonomous road repair system), not only identifies potholes, but also characterises their geometry and collects measurements on the go. It automatically deposits sealing material, fixing smaller cracks before they evolve into potholes.

The robot also features a prediction algorithm to help prioritise work schedules.

According to the University, no autonomous technology solutions exist to tackle road repairs.

The JV, Robotiz3d Ltd, includes venture capital fund A2e, and will receive investment from the University’s Enterprise Investment Fund, alongside private equity investment from A2e.

Among the JV’s founders are Dr Paolo Paoletti and Dr Sebastiano Fichera from the University’s School of Engineering, who have been developing and trialling the technology over the past four years.

Dr Paoletti, who will serve as chief technology officer for the JV, said: "Robotiz3d will develop an AI-driven robotic system to address the national and international potholes problems. The proposed system will be able to autonomously detect and characterise road defects, such as cracks and potholes, assess and predict the severity of such defects, and fix cracks so that they do not evolve into potholes."

Dr Fichera, technical director, added: "Current methods to detect and repair of potholes are labour-intensive and as such are slow, unsafe, and costly to the economy and environment. The new technology we are developing will make road maintenance tasks faster, cheaper, and cleaner and ultimately make roads safer and more accessible."

Lisa Layzell, an award-winning senior executive and serial entrepreneur of high-tech companies, is a co-founder and CEO of Robotiz3d. She said: "This is an exciting new spin-out to take forward. The team at Robotiz3d has the expertise and experience in robotics and AI to deliver the project and introduce world-leading innovation to the management of roads and highways. We have developed a robust business plan to take forward the portfolio of Robotiz3d envisaged products."

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