Researchers Are Developing Pothole-Repairing Drones

iStock / iStock

Anyone who’s had to navigate around potholes knows how inefficient humans can be at fixing infrastructure—which is why one group of researchers at the UK's University of Leeds is now looking into enlisting fleets of drones to solve our repair woes.

The university is teaming up with the city of Leeds to develop fleets of drones designed to recognize and fix basic infrastructure issues. The key advantage the drones will have over human workers will be their ability to discreetly perform repairs in less-accessible areas. “Our robots will undertake precision repairs and avoid the need for large construction vehicles in the heart of our cities,” the university’s director of National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems Rob Richardson told Popular Science.

The team will focus on developing three different types of repair drones. In addition to a watchful drone that can coast along the streets, identifying, repairing, and preventing potholes, they will also be working on a model that surveys and fixes damage to sewers and utility pipes, and a drone that can “perch” like a bird and fix hard-to-reach places. The team has just been awarded a grant of £4.2 million ($6.5 million USD) to begin research on the project, so there’s no saying when these fleets of repair drones will be ready to patrol the roads. For now, we’ll have to continue relying on passive-aggressive graffiti to get our potholes filled. 

[h/t: Popular Science]