Fully autonomous pothole preventing robot aces initial tests

ARRES PREVENT World First Pothole Preventing Robot
The ARRES Prevent has the capability to identify and mend minor cracks in roadways, preventing them from widening into potholes. Images courtesy Hertfordshire County Council

In an effort to combat the perennial problem of potholes on roads, which cause inconvenience and costly damage, the UK has taken a significant step forward by testing an autonomous machine capable of detecting and sealing surface cracks before they escalate. This development promises not only to save time and money but also to minimize disruptions for road users.

The autonomous robot, a collaborative effort between the tech company Robotiz3d, the University of Liverpool, and Highways Engineers, underwent its first real-world test on the roads of Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. Funded by Innovate UK along with other investors, the project has brought forth the world’s first Autonomous Road Repair System (ARRES), dubbed the ARRES PREVENT robot. This initiative marks a critical advancement in the maintenance of road infrastructure.

The ARRES PREVENT robot employs cutting-edge imaging technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to identify and fix cracks and other road surface defects, effectively preventing the formation of potholes. Its successful trial in Potters Bar demonstrated its ability to fill cracks, thereby keeping out surface water which is a principal cause of pothole formation. This technology stands as a beacon of hope for regions like Hertfordshire and potentially the world, in their battle against road surface issues.

Following the successful initial test, the project team plans to conduct further trials. These trials are aimed at refining the vehicle’s capabilities before proceeding to full production, alongside developing a larger version of the machine that can address a broader spectrum of road defects. Since its inception in 2020, this innovative piece of technology has been the first in the world to tackle potholes in such an automated manner.

Cllr Reena Ranger from the Hertfordshire County Council highlighted the significant impact of this trial, stating, “The test today is another step in the right direction towards solving the pothole problem this country faces.” After repairing over 40,000 potholes through various trials of new techniques, the Council remains committed to utilizing cutting-edge technology to potentially prevent potholes from forming in the first place, thus maintaining one of the best road networks in the country.

ARRES PREVENT Pothole Preventing Robot First Trial
The ARRES Prevent prototype successfully passed its initial public road test in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire.

Sebastiano Fichera, co-founder and Technical Director of Robotiz3d, shared his vision for the project, emphasizing the goal to “build a safe and sustainable road infrastructure through intelligent, and automated maintenance and repair.” The ARRES PREVENT combines AI-powered road survey solutions with advanced robotics and unmanned mobility to proactively reduce potholes, thus revolutionizing road maintenance practices.

The UK’s Technology and Decarbonisation Minister, Anthony Browne MP, also voiced his support for this innovative technology, noting its potential to transform road maintenance and enhance the driving experience. By preventing cracks from evolving into potholes, the technology aligns with the principle that prevention is better than cure, potentially saving on future maintenance work. The government’s commitment to supporting innovative solutions to improve the transport system was underscored by the provision of over £30,000 in Transport Research and Innovation Grants to Robotiz3d.

As the UK endeavors to tackle its pothole issues head-on, the deployment of the ARRES PREVENT robot represents a significant step toward more efficient and less disruptive road maintenance. This initiative not only underscores the importance of innovative technology in public infrastructure maintenance but also sets a precedent for other regions grappling with similar challenges. Check out the video below for more.

Source: Hertfordshire County Council