Government explores drones and 3D printing to fix potholes

Input encouraged from innovative SMEs from outside the transport sector

Credit: Alan Stanton/CC BY-SA 2.0

The government has outlined its intent to explore the use of technologies such as drones and 3D printing to help fix potholes.

The Department for Transport has published the first report of findings from the Digital Intelligent Brokerage Hub (DIB) – an initiative which looks to support research and the development of new solutions to the problem of potholes on the UK’s roads. The project was born out of a pilot programme led by Wiltshire Council but has been taken on by the DfT, which wants to explore the possibilities of working with SMEs from outside the transport sector – including innovative tech firms.

Early work, conducted in partnership with Wiltshire, identified six potential “innovation pilots” of emerging technologies or methods that could help improve the quality of roads around the country.

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These are: “nanotechnology applied to materials; specialised plant for circular repairs; smart video for mobile devices; automated drones and analytics; digital twin systems; and customer insight”.

Support for further investigation into these proposals will come from a wider £15m package of local-authority funding announced by transport secretary Grant Shapps.

“Whether you’re a motorist, cyclist or pedestrian, every road-user across our country deserves the best possible journey,” he said. “That’s why, despite already having some of the best and safest roads in the world, this government is providing millions of pounds to improve them further still. This vital funding and work will cut journey times for millions of people, reduce emissions and keep the UK at the forefront of technological developments in roads maintenance as we continue to invest in local economies and build back both better and greener from the pandemic.”


Sam Trendall

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