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'Revolutionary' AI-controlled robot deployed to prevent potholes forming

The ARRES PEVENT robot in action. Photo released March 8 2024. See SWNS story SWLSpothole.A 'revolutionary' new AI robot has been deployed on British roads in a world first to prevent the formation of potholes. The Autonomous Road Repair System (ARRES) spent its first-ever successful outing filling cracks in the roads of Hertfordshire with tar. The clever robot - officially named ARRES PEVENT - used artificial intelligence (AI) to detect defects in the road and fill them in before they form potholes - saving time and money as well as endless irritation to drivers. The droid, which uses state-of-the-art imaging technology, is the creation of tech company Robotiz3d and academics from the University of Liverpool, in collaboration with highways engineers at Hertfordshire County Council (HCC).
The Autonomous Road Repair System (ARRES) AI robot has been deployed in a bid to stop potholes from developing. (SWNS)

A 'revolutionary' new artificial intelligence (AI) arobot has been deployed on British roads in a bid to prevent potholes from forming.

The Autonomous road repair system (ARRES) uses AI to detect defects in the road and fill them in before they can develop into potholes in what is believed to be a world first. Dubbed ARRES Prevent, it is hoped to save time and money along with damage to cars and irritation to drivers.

The robot has been pictured on its first deployment in Hertfordshire, where it successfully filled cracks in the county's road with tar.

Hertfordshire County Council, which developed the gadget in collaboration with tech company Robotiz3d and academics from the University of Liverpool, said it had passed its test run at Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, with 'flying colours'.

It is the first time the prototype, which uses state-of-the-art imaging technology, has been used outside the lab since development began nearly four years ago.

The ARRES PEVENT robot in action. Photo released March 8 2024. See SWNS story SWLSpothole.A 'revolutionary' new AI robot has been deployed on British roads in a world first to prevent the formation of potholes. The Autonomous Road Repair System (ARRES) spent its first-ever successful outing filling cracks in the roads of Hertfordshire with tar. The clever robot - officially named ARRES PEVENT - used artificial intelligence (AI) to detect defects in the road and fill them in before they form potholes - saving time and money as well as endless irritation to drivers. The droid, which uses state-of-the-art imaging technology, is the creation of tech company Robotiz3d and academics from the University of Liverpool, in collaboration with highways engineers at Hertfordshire County Council (HCC).
Footage shows the robot filling cracks in with tar to stop them turning into potholes. (SWNS)

Hertfordshire County Council said it is trialling new techniques after fixing more than 40,000 potholes this year alone, and claim the robots will 'revolutionise' how countries across the world combat the pothole problem.

It comes as insurance data suggests the number of pothole-related claims jumped by 40% annually last year, Admiral recorded 1,324 claims across 2023, up by around 40% compared with the 946 claims seen in 2022. The average cost of pothole-related damage also increased by 29% in 2023 compared with 2022, according to Admiral’s data.

In January, a report suggested that potholes are at a five-year high, with the AA estimating they may have cost UK drivers as much as £500m in repairs.

'Step in the right direction'

Councillor Reena Ranger, the deputy executive member for highways at Hertfordshire County Council, 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."

Footage released by the council shows the robot in action, detecting damage in the road surface then using its hanging arm to dispense tar into cracks to stop them becoming potholes.

Technology and decarbonisation minister Anthony Browne said he believes robots like ARRES could be invaluable in saving time and money for councils across the world.

He said: "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."

Cllr Reena Ranger, Chris Allen-Smith and Sebastiano Fichera, Co-Founder Robotiz3d with The ARRES PEVENT robot. Photo released March 8 2024. See SWNS story SWLSpothole.A 'revolutionary' new AI robot has been deployed on British roads in a world first to prevent the formation of potholes. The Autonomous Road Repair System (ARRES) spent its first-ever successful outing filling cracks in the roads of Hertfordshire with tar. The clever robot - officially named ARRES PEVENT - used artificial intelligence (AI) to detect defects in the road and fill them in before they form potholes - saving time and money as well as endless irritation to drivers. The droid, which uses state-of-the-art imaging technology, is the creation of tech company Robotiz3d and academics from the University of Liverpool, in collaboration with highways engineers at Hertfordshire County Council (HCC).
The 'Prevent' will now undergo further refinement before full production. (SWNS)

The government helped fund the development by Robotiz3d with over £30,000 from Transport Research and Innovation Grants.

The ARRES Prevent is now set to undergo further trials to refine it ahead of full production. Work is also underway on a larger version that will be able to fix a wider range of defects.

What causes potholes and why does the UK have so many?

Potholes a depression in the surface of the road caused by wear or sinking. They start out as tiny cracks in the surface but can grow thanks to the friction of tyres on a road which can make the surface expand.

Over a period of time, this expansion leads to cracks in the surface. Water can then seep in and when it freezes and thaws can form potholes.

The UK's climate makes its roads more susceptible to potholes, as cold and wet weather - especially during winter months - means water is more likely to seep into cracks in the road surface. Add heavy road use and traffic and the UK's potholes are a renowned issue, with tight council budgets meaning they often don't fixed.

In January, the Department for Transport promised swift action following a shocking report into UK potholes suggesting that they caused misery in 2023 on a scale that has not been seen in five years.

Scientists have also warned that the problem will worsen as wet weather and temperature extremes caused by climate change cause more potholes.

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