Drones could fix Britain’s pothole problem in the future, scientist suggests
Scientists have predicted that Britain’s roads could be fixed and repaired by an army of drones in the future – saying the operation could be performed in ‘about a minute.’
According to University College London Professor, Mark Miodownik, the innovative idea would see a fleet of robots or drones searching towns and cities across the country identifying cracks in both roads and pavements.
Once a problem has been detected, a separate drone – with a 3D printer attached – would be dispatched and spray asphalt into the hole to repair it, reportedly taking as little as one minute to complete.
Professor Miodownik told the Cheltenham Science Festival that Leeds City Council is already working with a specialised team of designers and engineers to initiate the idea of ‘self-repairing’ cities.
He said: “Our idea is that when these small cracks happen we want to be able to see them – a drone flying around the road network would see them – and another drone would land and repair them.
“You do it at night and we can do it in about a minute. You stop over the crack, you repair the crack and it’s done.
“For motorways it is a different problem but for roads in Cheltenham and bigger cities, I think night-time autonomous vehicles would have almost no impact on traffic.”
Professor Miodownik went on to add that technology can not only be used in the infrastructure industry but will also have a big part to play in the construction industry in the near future as well.
He continued: “There are lots of technical issues to solve but we are in the phase now where robots are not a big part of construction.
“But it seems undoubtedly our future that when you look at future construction sites you will see robots building a building or a bridge.
“What that then means is that the repair of that building or bridge will be able to be done by robots because the design will have already taken to account that robots need access.”
“This is going to be a big future for us all. What is immediately possible now for ‘self-repairing cities’ is an exciting prospect in all of our lives,” he added.
“This is probably become a reality. There are all sorts of ethical and moral issues in putting robots in a city environment.
“Unless the public and policy-makers are involved right at the beginning of this technology, which is now, the chances of it advancing to the point where they feel excluded or we can see a future that no-one really wants is high.”
With councils beginning to use drone technology more and more, Uplift can offer drone training across the country and have already trained both Oxford City Council and the Vale of Glamorgan Council.