Pothole repair robot passes first road test

07/03/2024
Dominic Browne

An autonomous highways repair robot has passed its first test outside of a lab environment in Hertfordshire, the county council has announced.

The new prototype vehicle has completed its first live trial in Potters Bar, 'where cracks were filled to prevent potholes forming'.

Further trials have been lined up to refine the vehicle ahead of full production of the Autonomous Road Repair System (ARRES) – known as the ARRES PREVENT robot – alongside work on a larger version capable of fixing a wider range of defects.

Its success was celebrated by technology and decarbonisation minister Anthony Browne MP, who said:  'This innovative technology has the potential to transform how we perform road maintenance and enhance the driver experience across Hertfordshire and beyond.

'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.'

Developed by tech company Robotiz3d and academics at the University of Liverpool, the system is the first of its kind in the world and has been in development since 2020 in partnership with Hertfordshire CC Highways engineers.

Cllr Reena Ranger, the council's deputy executive member for highways, 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, Robotiz3d's co-founder and technical director, said: '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.'

The project was funded by Innovate UK and other investors.

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