As climate change continues to unleash extreme weather conditions, the toll on our roadways has become increasingly evident. The past year has seen a surge in pothole reports across the globe, with nearly 630,000 incidents in the UK alone, marking a five-year high. In the United States, the situation is similarly dire, with around 44 million drivers facing vehicle damage due to road craters in 2022, a staggering 57% increase from the previous year.
Experts attribute this uptick not only to aging infrastructure and limited maintenance budgets but also to the intensifying weather patterns caused by global warming. “The barrage of excessive heat, flooding, and freeze-thaw cycles is exacerbating road conditions,” explains Hassan Davani, an associate professor at San Diego State University.
In response to this growing challenge, a wave of innovation is sweeping the transportation infrastructure sector, heralding the arrival of potentially game-changing solutions. Among these, the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics stands out.
A pioneering initiative in the UK, led by startup Robotiz3d, has given rise to ARRES PREVENT, the world’s first autonomous pothole-repairing robot. This AI-driven marvel is designed to detect road damages before they escalate, offering a proactive approach to road maintenance. Scheduled for deployment in Hertfordshire in 2024, ARRES PREVENT represents a significant leap towards sustainable infrastructure management.
Parallel to robotic intervention, the development of self-healing pavement, or “smart asphalt,” offers another promising avenue. Modern Hydrogen, a Washington-based climate tech startup, is making strides with a novel asphalt mix strengthened by solid carbon derived from the carbon capture process. This not only enhances the asphalt’s durability but also significantly reduces its carbon footprint.
Sources include: BBC