Mid-term report charts successes so far and way ahead

Jun 18 2018

A mid-term report has been released for the Self-Repairing Cities project, pulling together the successes and progress so far, as well as suggesting a route map for the rest of the project.

The project has the ‘Grand Challenge’ aim of zero disruption from streetworks by 2050.

In order to move towards this, we have been working to design autonomous systems – robots – that can help cities to heal themselves, avoiding intrusive and disruptive streetworks, preventing waste of material, reducing carbon emissions and making infrastructure a safer place to work.

Key achievements so far include:

  • A pipe inspection robot that can operate autonomously in a 1-inch pipe, with wireless power transfer for charging.
  • A drone with a 3D polymer printer that can provide customised plastic ‘patches’ for cracks in roads and the technology to 3D print asphalt that performs better than traditional asphalt.
  • A drone system that can control and co-ordinate the movements of trucks on a construction site.
  • A drone that can autonomously land on a lamppost and perform tasks using an attached manipulator arm.
  • Designed and started a ‘horizon scanning’ exercise to determine the likely ecological effect of operating robots in the natural environment.
  • Simulated how simple, cheap ‘disposable’ robots with control systems based on the brains of nematode worms can efficiently locate potholes or other defects in roads.

However, Self-Repairing Cities is not just about technology. We understand concerns about ‘robots taking our jobs’ and so the team includes social and environmental scientist, working out how deploying autonomous systems would affect the people, the economy and the environment in our cities. We are working towards a win-win situation where better jobs are created, taxpayers’ money is used more efficiently and our air, water and wildlife are protected.

View or downloaded the full Mid Term Report to find out more.

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