UK is now using AI to fix potholes. Time for India to learn too?

The Hertfordshire County Council in the UK has introduced a new AI-powered robot to improve the roads in its jurisdiction by automatically filling the
pothole roads UK
The new ARRES AI-powered robot can identify and fix potholes and was recently tested by the Hertfordshire County Council in the UK (AFP)
pothole roads UK
The new ARRES AI-powered robot can identify and fix potholes and was recently tested by the Hertfordshire County Council in the UK

Artificial Intelligence or AI is increasingly becoming a strong part of our lives. From our smartphones, and computer systems, to running complicated algorithms, AI is taking over most of our work, and it now seems the technology will soon repair roads on its own as well. That seems to be the case in the UK, where one local county decided to use AI technology to repair its pothole-ridden roads.

The Hertfordshire County Council in the UK has introduced a new robot from the Robotiz3d tech company to improve the roads in its jurisdiction. The robot in question is called ARRES (Autonomous Road Repair System) and has been developed by academics at the University of Liverpool in conjunction with Robotiz3d. The ARRES robot uses artificial intelligence to analyse the characteristics of a pothole and other road defects before “automatically" filling it up.

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Given the robot automates the process and can address the pothole repairs quickly, the county says that it is hoping that the surface water will keep falling into them, preventing the potholes from reappearing. The first AI pothole test in the open was conducted on March 6, 2024.

The ARRES robot has been built by Robotiz3d, which previously received 30,000 Pounds (around 31.80 lakh) funding from the UK government to improve its ability to fix the roads. The technology is in its nascent stages but the potential for the same is huge, almost inevitable in the times to come. The Hertfordshire County is still testing the robot and the tech is expected to be replicated in other parts of the UK, based on successful results.

That said, the ARRES robot will find a lot of potential in India. Potholes continue to be an unwilling yet strong part of the Indian road network and we’ve seen our local bodies try to repair and fail the pothole-ridden roads every year. Perhaps, moving to an AI-based system would be the way to go.

In fact, India has already made advancements when it comes to using AI to identify potholes. A start-up by the name of Intents Mobi has been developing an app to capture potholes using a phone’s sensors such as a gyroscope and accelerometer. The algorithm observes the changes in the vehicle’s speed and sudden dips and jumps to identify if the road has potholes in particular areas.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) also implemented the Intelligent Solutions for Road Safety through Technology and Engineering (iRASTE) AI-powered project for road safety in Nagpur in 2023. The project aims to achieve up to 50 per cent decline in road accidents in the city and create a blueprint for India towards zero accidents, the ministry said at the time.

Similarly, the Delhi Public Works Department (PWD) set up a model based on AI in April 2023 to keep watch over 41 km of 16 road stretches to check for broken roads, water leakage, and more. The use of AI tech aims to eliminate the delay in notifying the authorities by giving real-time updates about damaged roads and footpaths.

However, the ARRES robot is likely to be the first-of-its-kind initiative when it comes to fixing potholes using AI. We believe India is ready to adopt this technology and even build a better one, over and above identifying potholes.

First Published Date: 13 Mar 2024, 17:38 PM IST

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