A recent grant to the University of Leeds could see a revolution in road repairs, as a team is set to develop robot drones to tackle highway maintenance. This comes on the back of recent years where autonomous technology across the motoring industry is an extremely hot topic, and multiple manufacturers are battling to be the first to introduce truly self-driving cars onto the road.
The grant is for £4.2m and was awarded by the prestigious Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with just some of the aims being to build a drone that can address problems such as potholes in the road, as well as electrical issues such as broken street lighting.
This grant comes as part of a larger project which has seen £21m so far given in the ‘Engineering Grand Challenges’ research, which aims to tackle some of the major challenges that face scientists and engineers today.
Three different robots will be built in total. The first will be a drone which is capable of landing onto structures and perform repairs. The second will be able to inspect and if necessary carry out repairs on potholes. The third robot would be based within utility pipes carrying out necessary maintenance where required.
Professor Phil Purnell, from the Leeds University School of Civil Engineering said: “We want to make Leeds the first city in the world to have zero disruption from street works.
“We can support infrastructure which can be entirely maintained by robots and make the disruptions caused by constant digging up the road in our cities a thing of the past.”
Dr Rob Richardson, director of the National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems at Leeds University said: “Our robots will undertake precision repairs and avoid the need for large construction vehicles in the heart of our cities. We will use the unique capabilities of our robotic facility to make new, more capable robots.”