World’s first pothole preventing robot passes first test with flying colours

An autonomous robot, developed by tech company Robotiz3d and academics at the University of Liverpool in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council Highways Engineers, has passed its first test outside of a lab environment, on the roads of Potters Bar, Hertfordshire yesterday (6 March).

Using state of the art imaging technology the team working on the project have now developed the first Autonomous Road Repair System (ARRES). The project was funded by Innovate UK and other investors.

The ARRES PREVENT robot characterises cracks and potholes and other defects in the road using Artificial Intelligence (AI). It then automatically fills the cracks to keep out surface water, which in turn helps to prevent potholes forming. It has the potential to save time and money as well as reducing the disruption potholes cause to road users.

The brand-new technology could revolutionise the way Hertfordshire and the rest of the world deal with potholes and issues with road surfaces in the future.

The new prototype vehicle has now successfully completed its first live trial in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire where cracks were filled to prevent potholes forming. The next step will be further trials to refine the vehicle ahead of full production of the ARRES PREVENT robot alongside work on a larger version of the machine capable of fixing a wider range of defects.

This piece of kit is the first of its kind in the world and has been in development since 2020.

Cllr Reena Ranger, Deputy Executive Member for Highways at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “The test today is another step in the right direction towards solving the pothole problem this country faces. After another wet winter, we know we’re likely to see an increase in potholes forming as the road surface recovers from water getting into cracks. That’s why we’ve worked hard to fix over 40,000 potholes this year through the trial of new techniques and using this cutting-edge technology we could potentially prevent the potholes forming in the first place. We’re committed to maintaining our road network so that it remains one of the best in the country – we’re excited for the time we can welcome PREVENT officially to our team.”

Sebastiano Fichera, co-founder and Technical Director from Robotiz3d said: “We are dedicated to our mission to help build a safe and sustainable road infrastructure through intelligent, and automated maintenance and repair. ARRES PREVENT is designed to autonomously perform crack sealing tasks by combining the groundbreaking features of ARRES EYE, our cutting-edge AI-powered road survey solution with state-of-the-art robotics and unmanned mobility, to proactively reduce the number of potholes. Working with Hertfordshire County Council has accelerated our development pace, propelling us towards our goal of revolutionising road maintenance practices.”

Technology and Decarbonisation Minister, Anthony Browne MP, said: “This innovative technology has the potential to transform how we perform road maintenance and enhance the driver experience across Hertfordshire and beyond. It is said a stitch in time saves nine, and that prevention is better than cure – and likewise stopping cracks from growing into potholes could save a lot of future maintenance work.

“We’re committed to supporting businesses with bright ideas to improve our transport system, and have provided over £30,000 through our Transport Research and Innovation Grants to help Robotiz3d realise their vision for pothole-free roads.”


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