The pothole fixing robot using AI to maintain roads


A robot designed to prevent potholes is set to hit the roads of Hertfordshire, England, thanks to the power of artificial intelligence (AI).

US statesman Benjamin Franklin coined death and taxes as the only certainties in life but in the United Kingdom (UK), driver complaints about potholes on road surfaces could easily be a third guarantee. It’s something of a national pastime.  But that could all be about to change.

As reported by Sky News, the machine known ARRES (Autonomous Road Repair System) PREVENT is an autonomous device that can identify and carry out initial repairs on potholes, having been tested in a controlled lab environment since 2020.

In a joint development by tech company Robotiz3d, alongside academics from the University of Liverpool in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council [HCC] Highways Engineers, the invention will soon head off into the real world, seeking to locate repairs in residential areas of the locality which borders Greater London.

In general, in the UK, council authorities are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of roads in each area. This could be a county council like Hertfordshire or a city council like Liverpool.

The problems with potholes

A pothole is formed when a crack appears on a road surface. This can be due to poor maintenance, age, bad drainage, or nearby utility works then excess rainwater, ice, and traffic damage can make the problem worse.

If not attended to immediately, water ponds will form in the holes making them much worse, creating problems for drivers and a perpetual problem in costs and resources for councils. The UK is particularly prone to potholes on its roads due to the cold, rainy climate it has, as well as the significant volume of road traffic.

The ARRES machine will use artificial intelligence to find potholes to immediately address. It will automatically fill cracks in the surface to prevent further, deeper holes from opening up.

Phil Bibby, a spokesman at Hertfordshire County Council, stated the technology “could be exactly what we need to ensure our road network remains one of the best in the country”. He added “We know this issue matters to our residents, so it matters to us too,” in a comment that will resonate with motorists all over the UK.

Picture: University of Liverpool


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