Lasers and robots receive funding in anti-graffiti drive

Written by Sam Trendall on 6 September 2021 in News
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Five proposals will each receive up to £30,000 of government backing

Credit: Pixabay

The government hopes to tackle the scourge of graffiti with technologies including lasers, audio sensors, and wall-climbing robots.

National Highways – until recently known as Highways England – has announced the five winners of a competition that invited proposals for new products that could remove graffiti from the country’s road network – or even stop it happening in the first place.

Each of the following companies will receive up to £30,000 to support ongoing development:
 

  • Innovation Factory, a provider of audio sensors designed to detect when graffiti is being applied and trigger “audio and visual deterrents”
     
  • Sensing Feeling, which offers artificial intelligence software that aims to analyse behaviour to detect potential imminent vandalism, allowing authorities to turn on lights and alarms
     
  • HausBots, a manufacturer of wall-climbing droids that can apply preventative paints to areas that would be difficult or hazardous for humans to reach
     
  • Powerlase, a firm which uses graffiti-removal lasers that are designed to minimise damage to underlying paint and films
     
  • Nano Eco Group, which offers “3D chemical coating” that can prevent graffiti adhering to surfaces


National Highways said that, in addition to distracting drivers, graffiti on bridges or next to major roads can cost up to £10,000 to remove, as well requiring the closure of roads or lanes.

The organisation’s head of innovation Annette Pass said: “We are very excited about taking forward these fascinating, innovative solutions that could help us tackle the relentless problem of graffiti which takes up time and money that would be better spent elsewhere on our network. The standard of entries was very high and difficult decisions had to be made to whittle them down to a final five. But we are confident that as we develop these ideas further we will be able to identify modern solutions to this age-old problem.”

The competition was run in conjunction with the construction firm Kier and the government’s Connected Places Catapult.

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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