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Science & Technology

Cities may soon be able to repair themselves

By T.K. Randall
October 21, 2015 · Comment icon 9 comments

Can automated robots take over city maintenance ? Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Dan DeLuca
A new research grant in the UK has been awarded to help develop autonomous city maintenance drones.
Scientists at the University of Leeds will be looking in to the development of new technologies that could one day make it possible for even the largest cities to run almost by themselves.

The research will be focusing on three key areas with the first, which is called 'Perch and Repair', dedicated to designing a new type of drone that can perch on streetlights and conduct repairs.

The second area, known as 'Perceive and Patch', will involve another type of drone that can automatically inspect, diagnose and repair potholes and other issues with a city's roads.
Similarly, the third area of the project, which is called 'Fire and Forget', will be looking at ways to automate the process of inspecting and repairing a city's utility pipes.

"We want to make Leeds the first city in the world to have zero disruption from street works," said Professor Phil Purnell who is heading up the research team.

"We can support infrastructure which can be entirely maintained by robots and make the disruption caused by the constant digging up the road in our cities a thing of the past."

Source: New Civil Engineer | Comments (9)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Lucas Cooper Merrin 9 years ago
So the drones carry out the assessment, costing, planning and method, order needed materials, carry out risk assessments, close necessary roads and shut off services, deal with diversions and public relations, along with putting cafes and burger vans out of business in the process....i think not!
Comment icon #2 Posted by Flashbangwallop 9 years ago
This could kill off a great British tradition of leaning on shovels and watching the other bloke do all the work! What next, turn Buckingham palace into flats for the homeless?
Comment icon #3 Posted by Talion78 9 years ago
What I've always enjoyed sitting in traffic with 3 miles of road coned off, while they patch up a 2ft pothole, that is if someones actually there.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Flashbangwallop 9 years ago
Talion78: Sarcasm aside, if you have a deep seated fetish for sitting in traffic jams try the M25 on a Friday at any time after 3pm. Good luck with your new found hobby.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Ashyne 9 years ago
The article is "subscriber-only content". I can't read it.
Comment icon #6 Posted by paperdyer 9 years ago
This could kill off a great British tradition of leaning on shovels and watching the other bloke do all the work! What next, turn Buckingham palace into flats for the homeless? Wait! PENNDOT isn't the only ones that do that?Sounds like a great idea until the sytem gets hacked.
Comment icon #7 Posted by F3SS 9 years ago
Yea two miles of cones and two guys working while three guys watch isn't unique to the UK. Anyways, the logistics and manual labor involved just can't be done without a human touch. How's a drone going to cut asphalt, remove it, haul and pour it by the ton, tamp it.... Blah blah blah. Impossible. Pipes require people, excavators and an assortment of tools and parts along with muscle and finesses to repair. Let me know when all this happens.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Regina Ulfa 9 years ago
Lazy modern humanity.
Comment icon #9 Posted by highdesert50 9 years ago
So, what happens to the repair workers displaced by the technology ... retrain the repair workers to repair the drones.

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