Home   News   Article

Herts County Council to wage a robot war to crack pothole problem





A pothole prevention robot, developed in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council highways engineers, has passed its first test outside a lab environment.

The machine, the first of its kind in the world, is designed to stop cracks from growing into potholes, and the technology could revolutionise the way Hertfordshire – and the rest of the world – deal with issues with road surfaces in the future.

The revolutionary machine, which has been in development since 2020, is the result of collaboration with tech company Robotiz3d and academics at the University of Liverpool.

Herts County Council highways engineer Chris Allen-Smith with the new pothole prevention robot
Herts County Council highways engineer Chris Allen-Smith with the new pothole prevention robot

Using state-of-the-art imaging technology and funding from Innovate UK, the team working on the project has developed the first Autonomous Road Repair System (ARRES).

The robot characterises cracks, potholes and other defects in the road using artificial intelligence (AI). It then automatically fills the cracks to keep out water, which in turn helps to prevent potholes from forming. It has the potential to save time and money as well as reduce the disruption potholes cause to road users.

The new prototype vehicle completed its first live trial in Potters Bar. The next step will be further trials to refine the vehicle ahead of full production of the ARRES PREVENT robot alongside work on a larger version of the machine capable of fixing a wider range of defects.

The robot fixing a crack during its trial in Potters Bar
The robot fixing a crack during its trial in Potters Bar

Cllr Reena Ranger, HCC’s deputy executive member for highways, said: “The test is another step in the right direction towards solving the pothole problem this country faces.

“After another wet winter, we know we’re likely to see an increase in potholes forming as the road surface recovers from water getting into cracks. That’s why we’ve worked hard to fix over 40,000 potholes this year through the trial of new techniques, and using this cutting-edge technology we could potentially prevent the potholes from forming in the first place.

“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.”

Sebastiano Fichera, co-founder and technical director at Robotiz3d, said: “We are dedicated to our mission to help build a safe and sustainable road infrastructure through intelligent and automated maintenance and repair.

Herts County Council highways engineer Chris Allen-Smith with Cllr Reena Ranger and Sebastiano Fichera from Robotiz3d
Herts County Council highways engineer Chris Allen-Smith with Cllr Reena Ranger and Sebastiano Fichera from Robotiz3d

“ARRES PREVENT is designed to autonomously perform crack-sealing tasks by combining the groundbreaking features of ARRES EYE, our cutting-edge AI-powered road survey solution, with state-of-the-art robotics and unmanned mobility, to proactively reduce the number of potholes.”

The Government’s technology and decarbonisation minister Anthony Browne 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.”



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More