A new technology under development in the U.K. makes use of drones and 3-D printing to quickly repair potholes.
The process involves a pair of drones, one that searches for cracks and potholes overnight and another dispatched by the first drone to patch the roadway with 3-D printed asphalt. The Telegraph reported Monday that some fixes could take less than a minute, a major difference in the time it takes to have crews come out to patch asphalt.
The University of Leeds says it has developed the technology using a $6.5 million grant from the U.K.’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
Repairing potholes with drones has provided a number of road bumps for researchers to manage.
For instance, although the project is three years into its research and development stage, it is only halfway through developing the necessary drones. Researchers are also still trying to piece together how a drone will handle the heavy material needed to repair roads and how exactly the 3-D printing process will print the asphalt.
By 2050 the cities that we live in could become “self-repairing cities” with technologies that can fix tall streetlights and robots that are placed in utility pipes to provide faster inspections. The goal is for technologies to be able to diagnose every piece of a city’s infrastructure and possibly aid in repairs.