UK start-up develops world’s first autonomous vehicle to repair potholes

A UK start-up has developed the world’s first autonomous vehicle that uses AI to locate and repair cracks and potholes on UK roads.

Artist impression of the autonomous robot pothole repair vehicle
Artist impression of the autonomous robot pothole repair vehicle - STFC

Almost two million potholes are repaired manually on UK roads annually, but this is expected to worsen with ageing infrastructure and increasing numbers of road users.

Now, start-up company Robotiz3d has developed a world-first Robot-as-a-Service technology designed to automate and transform road maintenance, making it faster, safer and more cost-effective.

Located at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory, Robotiz3d has combined AI with advanced robotics to develop an autonomous vehicle that will locate and repair cracks and potholes in the road.

In a statement, Lisa Layzell, CEO and co-founder at Robotiz3d, said: “This is the first autonomous technology of this kind developed specifically to tackle the pothole crisis which plagues many parts of the country, and which is estimated to have cost more than £1bn to repair over the last decade.”

Using advanced detection and repair technologies incorporated into the AI robotics system, the autonomous vehicle can assess and predict the severity of defects, sealing them before they worsen.

According to the company, the solution can collect data when travelling up to 60mph, scans one lane at a time with a field of view up to 3m, and can be used 24/7 in any weather conditions.

Based initially on patented research developed at Liverpool University, the technology can also analyse the geometry of potholes, collecting measurement data as it operates.

Using AI, it couples this data with a prediction algorithm that will enable local authorities to predict road conditions accurately, enabling them to prioritise preventative road maintenance.

According to the team, this will reduce the time, cost, carbon dioxide emissions and material wastage associated with repairing cracks and potholes, while improving the life span and safety of roads.

At Daresbury Laboratory, located at Sci Tech Daresbury in the Liverpool City Region, Robotiz3d has been able to create a bespoke laboratory to develop its prototype, including space for testing.

With official testing now underway, the company said it is making progress towards commercialising its technology.