Drones pave the way forward in fight against potholes


  • TECH
  • Monday, 16 Jul 2018

FILED - Pothole-fixing drones are part of a larger effort from researchers in Leeds University to use robotics to create self-repairing cities that no longer require street works. Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa

That mood-ruining irritation felt by drivers after unexpectedly hitting a pothole may soon be a thing of the past, as researchers look to the skies to pave a new way forward.  

A research team at the University of Leeds in Britain is working on drones that can autonomously identify, fix and prevent cracks in the road surface with the help of cameras and a 3D printer.  

Referred to as “Perceive and Patch”, the research project aims to develop a discreet and cheaper alternative to the use of road-workers to fill potholes, which can be both disruptive to traffic and costly for authorities.  

In England and Wales, potholes have caused a huge strain on the local budgets, with over £1bil (RM5.31bil) being spent on almost 18 million potholes in the last decade, according to the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey.  

The drones are part of a larger effort from the university to use robotics to create self-repairing cities that no longer require street works.  

Led by University of Leeds' Professor Phil Purnell, the project will also develop drones to “perch” like birds to detect and repair faults in the city (e.g. broken streetlights) and robots to inspect and protect utility pipes.  

“We want to make Leeds the first city in the world to have zero disruption from street works,” says Purnell. — dpa

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