Scientists at the University of Liverpool have claimed that autonomous AI robots could be used to detect and repair potholes and road defects by 2021.
The university has formed a new spin out company – Robotiz3d – to take forward the new technology.
Robotiz3d is a joint venture in partnership with Scottish firm A2e, and will receive investment from the university’s Enterprise Investment Fund, alongside private equity investment from a2e.
The company plans to commercialise patented research from the university’s Engineering Robotics Lab.
Company founders include Dr Paolo Paoletti and Dr Sebastiano Fichera from the university’s School of Engineering, who have been developing and trialling the technology over the past four years.
Dr Paoletti, who will serve as chief technology officer, said: 'Robotiz3d 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 characterise 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 Fichera, technical director, said: '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 co-founder and CEO of Robotiz3d.
'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,' she said.
The formation of the company has been supported by the university’s IP Commercialisation Team led by Emma Nolan. Andrew Spencer, who works with academics in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, will take a position on the board.
The company will be based at Sci-Tech Daresbury.
Prof Anthony Hollander, pro-vice-chancellor for research and impact at the University of Liverpool, said: '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.'