University to Develop Autonomous Road Repair Drones

Skynet imminent.

byBrendan McAleer|
University to Develop Autonomous Road Repair Drones


A new vision for the future of construction: Drones, automatically deploying to detect, and repair, broken pavement. That’s the idea behind a new £4.2M grant ($6.5M in real money) awarded to the University of Leeds to research technology capable of automatically maintaining a city's infrastructure.

There are three initial levels of robot planned. The first will be able to perch on faulty street lamps to perform repairs without cluttering up the street below. The second, scan for potholes, repairing damage to the street surface before problems worsen. The third is intended to be fired into utility pipes to operate indefinitely, patching and repairing for its entire life cycle. The fourth is a Mexican-made bending robot fueled by alcohol - no, wait, sorry, that's Futurama.

An autonomous, auto-repairing megalopolis, one with silk-smooth pavement and traffic lights that never go on the fritz, sounds like a paradise. No potholes? Not ever? Tuners, crank your suspension down to Fuji Raceway spec.

On the other hand, considering how people treat public roads, a self-aware New York drone construction fleet will probably go full Skynet and start encasing people in liquid tarmac spray. Still, what a time to be alive. For the moment.