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Meet the AI robot preventing potential potholes from forming

By Jodie Chay Oneill | March 12, 2024


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The AI robot, ARRES PREVENT, employs artificial intelligence to identify road defects and pre-emptively fill them to prevent potholes from forming

A ground-breaking new AI robot has been introduced onto British roads in a world-first effort to tackle the issue of potholes.

Known as the Autonomous Road Repair System (ARRES), this innovative technology, officially named ARRES PREVENT, employs artificial intelligence (AI) to identify road defects and pre-emptively fill them to prevent potholes from forming.

Developed by tech company Robotiz3d and academics from the University of Liverpool in collaboration with Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) engineers, this state-of-the-art robot utilises advanced imaging technology.

After a successful trial run in Hertfordshire, specifically in Potters Bar, the ARRES PREVENT robot has demonstrated its ability to detect and repair cracks in roads effectively. This marks the first time the prototype has been deployed outside the lab since its development began nearly four years ago.

HCC, which has been experimenting with various techniques to address the pothole issue, sees the deployment of these robots as a potential game-changer in road maintenance.

Councillor Reena Ranger, Deputy Executive Member for Highways at HCC, said: 'The test is another step in the right direction towards solving the pothole problem this country faces.

'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.'

Anthony Browne, Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire, believes that these robots could offer significant time and cost savings for councils globally.

The Minister for Technology and Decarbonisation stated: 'This innovative technology has the potential to transform how we perform road maintenance and enhance the driver experience across Hertfordshire and beyond.

'It is said a stitch in time saves nine, and that prevention is better than cure - and likewise stopping cracks from growing into potholes could save a lot of future maintenance work.'

The government played a crucial role in financing the Robotiz3d development, contributing over £30,000 through the Transport Research and Innovation Grants.

The ARRES PREVENT is currently set for additional trials to enhance the vehicle before moving into full-scale production. Simultaneously, efforts are underway to create a larger version of the machine, capable of addressing a broader spectrum of defects.

Sebastiano Fichera, co-founder and technical director of Robotiz3d, explained 'We've developed a system that prevents potholes. It does this through scanning the road detecting the cracks and through a bit of artificial intelligence, identifying which one needs to be filled. 

'By filling out the cracks it prevents water ingress and this prevents in turn the pothole to appear.'

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