Robots to fix street lights and potholes in £4.2m project
A university is leading a pioneering £4.2 million project to create "self-repairing cities" by developing robots that can fix street lights and potholes.
Researchers at the University of Leeds will develop small robots to identify problems with utility pipes, street lights and roads and fix them with minimal disruption to the public.
The initial robots will include drones that can perch on street lights to carry out repairs, drones that can fix potholes and robots within utility pipes performing inspections and repairs.
The robots will be thoroughly tested before being trialled in a safe and responsible manner in Leeds.
Professor Phil Purnell, leading the research team from the School of Civil Engineering, said: "We want to make Leeds the first city in the world to have zero disruption from street works.
"We can support infrastructure which can be entirely maintained by robots and make the disruption caused by the constant digging up the road in our cities a thing of the past."
Dr Rob Richardson, director of the National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems at the university, added: "Our robots will undertake precision repairs and avoid the need for large construction vehicles in the heart of our cities."
The project will also track the social, environmental, political and economic impact of these new technologies in the city.
It is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and is part of £21 million funding for Engineering Grand Challenges research, which aims to tackle some of the major challenges facing science and engineering.