William Eichler 27 October 2020

Robotics to be deployed in battle against potholes

The University of Liverpool has launched a spin out company which will drive the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics to detect potholes and road cracks.

Robotiz3d Ltd is a joint venture spin out company established in partnership with A2e Ltd and will receive investment from the University’s Enterprise Investment Fund, alongside private equity investment from a2e Ltd.

It will commercialise patented research from the University’s Engineering Robotics Lab and will deploy AI and robotics to improve the way road defects are detected and repaired.

‘Robotiz3d Ltd will develop an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven robotic system to address the national and international potholes problems,’ said Dr Paolo Paoletti, who will serve as chief technology officer for the company.

‘The proposed system will be able to autonomously detect and characterize 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.’

It is estimated that potholes have cost more than £1bn to repair over the last decade. The Local Government Association’s (LGA) transport spokesperson, Cllr David Renard, has also said that local roads face a repairs backlog of ‘£10bn and rising’.

Dr Sebastiano Fichera, technical director of Robotiz3d Ltd, commented: ‘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.’

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