Thanks to Robots and Drones, Leeds to Become World’s First “Self-Repairing City”


The Team IHMC Robotics Atlas "Running Man" robot built by Boston Dynamics raises its arms to celebrate after climbing the stairs during the finals of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotic Challenge in Pomona, CaliforniaShort Bytes: The Engineering and Physical Research Council has funded a £4.2 million project, aimed to brand Leeds as world’s first self-repairing city. It will facilitate the deployment of intelligent drones and robots capable of repairing street lights and potholes in the city of Leeds, United Kingdom. Along with this, the social, economical impacts of such technologies will also be analyzed as a part of the project.

After Amazon’s Drone service, which is still in its testing phase, the scientists at the University Of Leeds, have been awarded a prize of £4.2 million. They’ll not be using it in the development of their robo-army, not for selling their inventions, or to be deployed in wars like the “Skynet” network created by the Russians, but as workers responsible for repairing potholes and the network of different utility pipes spread all around the city.

The drone project is under the financial roof of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and is supervised by Professor Phil Purnell, School of Civil Engineering.

He said:

We want to make Leeds the first city in the world to have zero disruption from street works. We can support infrastructure which can be entirely maintained by robots and make the disruption caused by the constant digging up the road in our cities a thing of the past.

The whole idea behind the development of these autonomous robots, is to create something intelligent enough, that can identity problems, carry out repairing tasks on its own, and doesn’t engender uncomfortable situations for the daily commuters.

As reported by Yorkshire Evening Post,

The researchers will initially develop new robot designs and technologies in three areas:

“Perch and Repair” – research to develop drones that can perch, like birds, on structures at height and perform repair tasks, such as repairing street lights.

“Perceive and Patch” – research to develop drones able to autonomously inspect, diagnose, repair and prevent potholes in roads;

“Fire and forget” – research to develop robots which will operate indefinitely within live utility pipes performing inspection, repair, metering and reporting tasks.

Being a part of Engineering and Physical Research Council’s £21 million Engineering Grand Challenges Research project, its the first of its kind initiative, that has taken place in any city around the world, and has gathered the support of federal organisations in the city.


Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, expressed his positive thoughts about the robot project:

We are delighted to be working with the University of Leeds on this intriguing and groundbreaking project. We are very keen to explore new innovations and use the latest technologies to improve how the city runs through our Smart Cities programme, and this idea of turning science fiction into fact will be fascinating to watch.

The drones will begin their action pursuit, only after they’ve been subjected to rigorous testing and become competent enough to appease their creators, only then they’ll be able to play their part in modernizing Leeds as world’s first self-repairing city.

Also Read: Self-driving Cars Must be Programmed to Kill, Study Says

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Aditya Tiwari

Aditya Tiwari

Aditya likes to cover topics related to Microsoft, Windows 10, Apple Watch, and interesting gadgets. But when he is not working, you can find him binge-watching random videos on YouTube (after he has wasted an hour on Netflix trying to find a good show). Reach out at [email protected]
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