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Gone to pot(holes) – how robots can save our roads

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Potholes wreak havoc on our cars’ undercarriage.  It is a seemingly intractable problem. In 2016, and despite councils filling in almost two million per year, the Local Government Association said it would take 14 years to clear the backlog. The Government has pledged more than £6 billion to tackle the problem by 2021 but with coronavirus mopping up every penny we have then I wouldn’t count on this happening.  Unless...


Using cameras and laser-mapping technology, the University of Liverpool has created AI driven devices that use cameras and laser-mapping technology to detect cracks and potholes in the surface of our highways and byways. The robot renders a 3D geometrical image of the damage which is sent to local authorities to assess any repairs needed. Using mathematical modelling and integrated weather readings, these robots predict how long it will take before a crack becomes a pothole and, where one already exists, the machine automatically fills it, thus removing the need for a human engineer to repair the damage in person. 

Now, I know this means technological unemployment, but the fact is that we haven’t got enough people to fill in the existing potholes.  Whether we like it or not, technology is going to play a rapidly increasing role in every area of construction and engineering.  The quicker we can get these robots deployed the  better and Liverpool University reckons they will start to appear on our roads next year. 

What does this mean for engineering jobs and the industry in general?  Simple: if you are not conversant with emerging construction technology then your employment prospects in the next 5-10 years are going to be constrained, even though there are still going to be jobs that require more traditional skills for some time to come.  If you are in any way worried about this, you can always call your recruitment consultant.  As one of Scotland’s biggest specialists, with expertise in Trades and Labour as well as professional and contracting roles, Peace has the market knowledge to help you avoid the potholes in your career path. Give me a call!

Alison Blake, Senior Divisional Manager, Peace Recruitment   


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