University of Liverpool uses AI and robotics technology to help spot road defects

The Univeristy of Liverpool has developed new technology which it says could ‘radically transform’ road maintenance in the UK.

The univeristy has formed a new spin out company – Robotiz3d Ltd – to take forward the new technology. The company is a joint venture established in partnership with A2e Ltd and will receive investment from the University’s Enterprise Investment Fund, alongside private equity investment from a2e Ltd.

The company will commercialise patented research from the University’s Engineering Robotics Lab. The technology uses Artificial Intelligence and robotics to significantly improve the way road defects, including pot holes and road cracks, are detected and repaired, says the university.

Currently, no autonomous technology solutions exist to tackle the pothole crisis which plagues many parts of the country and is estimated to have cost more than £1billion to repair over the last decade.

The compnay’s founders are Dr Paolo Paoletti and Dr Sebastiano Fichera from the univeristy’s School of Engineering who both have an extensive track record of research in this area and have been developing abd trialling the technology for the past four years.

Dr Paolo Paoletti, who will serve as Chief Technology Officer for the company, said: “Robotiz3d Ltd will develop an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven robotic system to address the national and international potholes problems. 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.”

Dr Sebastiano Fichera, Technical Director of the company, 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 Ltd. 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.”

Professor Anthony Hollander, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research & Impact at the University of Liverpool, said: “The University of Liverpool is committed to working with industry to put high-quality research results on a commercialisation path. By partnering with a2e, and putting solid investment behind Robotiz3d, we are aiming to make a real difference to the economy, society, and the environment”.

The formation of the company has been supported by the University’s IP Commercialisation Team  led by Emma Nolan, and Andrew Spencer, who works with academics in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, will take a position on the board.

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