Filling the Hole with Tech

Potholes. They are literally everywhere and seem to be there for an eternity. They may seem to be just a nuisance to drivers and cyclists, but in reality they can pose a much bigger threat considering all that lies beneath our streets like water, gas, and electrical lines. But what would happen if there was a way for them to repair themselves?

The project

This is exactly what the Self-Repairing Cities Project from a group of United Kingdom universities aims to do. By 2050, they hope to make every city in the UK self-repairing through robots.This pilot project focuses on fixing small holes before they have a chance to become bigger and form into sinkholes. How it works is that flying drones would autonomously monitor the streets from above, looking for potholes or defects. These drones are also equipped with a 3D printer. If a defect is detected the drone would fly down and inject material to fill the hole. Pretty simple right? Not quite.

What we need to do to get there

There’s still a lot of research and development needed to be done before we see drones fixing all our problems. The biggest challenge is designing a new type of material that fits all the criteria. For instance, it must be light and compact enough for the drone to carry over long stretches of land. The material also needs to be able to dry quick enough to allow for minimal traffic disruption and be able to dry flat and smoothly without human intervention. These are just some of the problems that the developers are facing in the effort of creating self-repairing cities.

Although there are many challenges that needs to be solved before this pilot project is up and running, it literally paves the way for new innovations in different settings. Not only could these drones aid in a street setting, marine equipped drones could help with riverbank and sewer inspections. They even have the potential to autonomously monitor forests when looking for missing persons or to track animals with the implementation of artificial intelligence.

For any of this to occur, it will require the work and dedication of multiple generations to advance the technology that is available to us. The development of it will span multiple year and will require each generation to work in synergy to produce the final product.

What do you think of self-repairing cities? Are you looking forward to driving around without encountering a pothole? Let us know down below!