Here's How Robots and Drones Could Make the UK a Roadworks-, Pothole-, Job-less Place

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

Future cities already sound like weird places. However, the University of Leeds’ announcement that it’s working on a fleet of maintenance robots with special powers -- seeking out and repairing broken infrastructure -- makes them sound even more alien. £4.2 million will be spent on the scheme, a part of the £21 million Engineering Grand Challenges project, and could eventually lead to the creation of so-called ‘self-repairing cities’.

It’s an ambitious, intriguing plan, and would see the development of special drones capable of flying to the top of broken street lights and fixing them, small robots with a passion for sorting out potholes, and even less fortunate machines blessed with the ability to operate in subterranean pipes, in order to carry out constant maintenance. Fingers crossed they won't turn out to be work-shy jokers.

“We want to make Leeds the first city in the world to have zero disruption from street works," said Professor Phil Purnell, the head of the research team. "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.”

While certainly exciting, this would almost certainly lead to a huge job losses. Still hyped?