It seems like every day there are more and more traffic jams peppering every inch of our roads. Whether it’s a road crew repairing pot holes, or city services maintaining street signs, traffic lights or street lights, it all impacts our daily lives. Besides sucking away our time, they add confusion and frustration to our commutes. Luckily, we are finally at a point where technology is providing new ways to solve these challenges.
There is a small town about 50 miles (80 Kilometers) outside of Manchester, England that is setting the new standard for maintaining city infrastructure. With the help of the University of Leeds, Leeds, England aims to be one of the first “self-repairing” cities on the planet.
With some serious funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; 6.34 Million USD (£4.2M) to be exact, they are developing and testing a number of automated robots that will be managing and maintaining city issues, and fixing them with minimal environmental impact and minimal disruption to the public.
The team has focused their research and deployment on three areas:
- Perch and Repair: Drones like the one in this syma x5sc review will be able to perch on structures to monitor their territory and repair items like street lights when they are in need of service.
- Perceive and Patch: Drones will be built to inspect, diagnose, repair and prevent potholes in roads.
- Fire and Forget: Robots will live and operate indefinitely within live utility pipes performing inspections, repair, metering and even reporting tasks.
Their goal is to create a fleet of drones and robots to entirely support the infrastructure of the city by making quick, precision repairs when they are needed, thus avoiding larger construction vehicles in the heart of the city.
This type of research has some potentially large implications all over the world. If the team at the University of Leeds is able to build an economically viable model for these robots, it would affect not only the jobs within the municipality, but also jobs throughout the construction industry. Management and maintenance tasks represent a bulk of the workload in some cases, and eliminating these tasks would cause dramatic changes to the structure of personnel within some companies. The possibility of a future world where all infrastructure is maintained by automatons is entirely possible, and should be a consideration in any long term strategic planning session. Companies that are planning for this future will be better able to adjust when the time comes.
Having real-time drones keeping the infrastructure maintained and running smoothly would be a welcome change. Even though it could have a short term effect on employment, I also believe it would create some amazing long term possibilities. Companies that take advantage of the technology will be the ones successful in the long run. And as with any industry evolution, the ones that do not plan for the change will most likely suffer. Leeds, England will be a very interesting place to watch over the next few years. Hopefully they are able to lay the framework for an entirely new way to manage our cities.