Herts County Council uses AI technology to find potholes
Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used by Hertfordshire County Council's highways team during the coronavirus crisis.
Instead of a driver and inspector team logging road faults such as potholes, the technology enables a single inspector to drive while the device records defects, thus meeting Covid-19 social distancing guidelines.
The county council, which last year filled over 17,000 potholes, is the first to adopt the Vaisala Road AI system for safety inspections.
Kevin Carrol, divisional manager of Ringway, the county council's highways contractor, said: "The safety of our staff is paramount, and by using this technology we are able to ensure they are working in a safe work environment.
"Secondly, it allows us to continue with essential road maintenance during lockdown and in line with Government recommendations. Social distancing and limitations with public transport have meant that roads are now the principal choice on which people are travelling. We need to ensure they are safe for emergency services, key workers and the general public."
The county council began trialling Road AI in February. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK in March, the highways team realised the technology could help in tackling social distancing challenges. As a result, it made the decision to accelerate the trial and has since covered over 4,000km (2,485 miles) of the county's highways.
Cllr Phil Bibby, HCC's cabinet member for highways and environment, said: "This technology is great news for drivers in Hertfordshire. We're always trying to find new and better ways of doing things, and the Covid-19 restrictions have given us the impetus to take rapid leaps forward that might otherwise have taken months to implement.
"I'm really pleased that Ringway has been able to deploy this technology and continue with road inspections under difficult circumstances while freeing up staff for essential maintenance work."