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UK to invest in robots to reduce roadworks

Mar 11, 2019
The UK government announced in January that it is investing £7.2m in robots to help repair the UK's vast underground pipe network and prevent the disruption caused by roadworks in the future.

Roadworks SolutionsIt is hoped that one centimeter long micro-robots will be able to locate and mend pipes, as well as cables - potentially saving the economy £5bn annually.

University of Sheffield Professor Kirill Horoshenkov is leading a consortium of scientists from Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds universities to develop the technology. They are to get a total of £7.2m in the form of a grant.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore said: "While for now we can only dream of a world without roadworks disrupting our lives, these pipe-repairing robots herald the start of technology that could make that dream a reality in the future.”

Malcolm Bingham, Head of Policy North of England at the Freight Transport Association (FTA) said that unexpected roadworks are one of the biggest challenges to the logistics industry.  “They prevent hauliers from operating at maximum efficiency, and ultimately, hinder the growth of the economy,” he said.  “The development of these robots is a perfect example of how government should be deploying advanced technology to solve the problems facing the logistics sector, where appropriate, keeping the cost of repairs to a minimum and ensuring that traffic keeps moving while work is undertaken.”

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