Leeds University promises to create robots that can support and restore urban infrastructure

    Welcome to the iCover Blog Pages ! Today, in our news section, news from foggy Albion, where possibly in the foreseeable future, robots and drones will take over the state control and minor maintenance of urban infrastructure. In any case, this is precisely the goal of the ambitious project of the “Self-Restoring” city of the future, on the implementation of which a group of specialists from the University of Leeds is working.


    Supporting urban infrastructure with proper care requires serious material and time costs from municipal workers. Such works include cracks in the walls of buildings, deformations of the surface of sidewalks, replacement of burned out bulbs, marking and repair of pavement, and many others.

    A real chance once and for all to get rid of the routine manual labor and the direct and indirect costs associated with it within the next few years may come from the Leeds municipality thanks to a new program implemented by a group of specialists from the city university. In accordance with the plans of the group’s specialists, most of the time-consuming work will be performed by robots and unmanned aerial vehicles. The task of drones will have to include monitoring the state of some of the urban infrastructure from the air. If faults are detected, a command to fix them is sent to the robots, which will arrive at the place of work immediately after the “call” and eliminate the identified defects.

    The project is funded by the Research Council of the Foundation for Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPSRC). The total investment of the fund in the development and research of promising technologies is 21 million pounds. Of these, 4.2 million pounds have already been allocated as a matter of priority. If the provided scheme is viable, then the next stage in development, according to scientists, can be a global program of so-called. “Self-healing cities” in which robots and drones will perform routine infrastructure restoration work.

    It is very important that the creation of “divisions” of robotic complexes capable of performing narrow repair tasks, together with the monitoring of UAVs, will allow to eliminate problems at the stage of their occurrence. In the future, this approach will significantly reduce potential costs compared to those borne by the city budget, eliminating the problems that have grown over several years. And no less important, that city dwellers will be spared from the need to put up with temporary inconveniences associated with ongoing work.

    Leeds University professor Phil Purnell, who leads the research team, shares his vision for the future: “Leeds will be the first city in the world to not have large-scale repairs that disrupt the normal rhythm of urban life.” In the foreseeable future, we will bring our infrastructure to a state where robots will monitor its integrity and functionality. This will be the time when the familiar signs “road” and “repair” work become a relic of the past. ”

    The program provides for three separate areas, each of which will be devoted to the development of repair robots of a certain specialization. Experts believe that in the near future they will be able to create drones that can not only detect burnt lamps and broken glass of street lamps, but also carry out their replacement. Another direction is planned to devote to the creation of drones that monitor the status of road surfaces and robots that will eliminate the identified defects. As part of the third part of the program, it is planned to develop robots whose mission is the timely detection and elimination of malfunctions, constant monitoring of the working capacity of underground engineering communications and the transmission of “reports” on completed tasks.

    To create such robots, according to the developers, they will be allowed to use existing knowledge in related fields of knowledge and robotics, as well as the intellectual and technical potential available at the University of Leeds and its partners participating in the project. The team included representatives from various fields of knowledge from other leading universities in the UK - Birmingham, Southampton and UCL, Nottingham, Sheffield, Oxford and others.

    The first prototypes of repair robots within the framework of the financing program and according to the plans of the engineers themselves should appear within the next year. The moment of truth will be the results of tests conducted in real conditions.

    You can familiarize yourself with the original publication on the university website .

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