The Future of Road Maintenance

by Wayne Eddy

My prediction for road maintenance in 2050 is that billions of micro-quadrotors (or some other variety of small autonomous airbourne robot) will be deployed in a "communications & maintenance corridor" located to adjacent to every road.

The micro-quadrotors will:

  • constantly inspect the surface of the road network for defects,
  • repair any minor defects detected by placing and gluing aggregate (or whatever equivalent building block is being used for road construction) into gaps, sealing cracks or applying additional binder,
  • locate loose unused aggregate and stockpile it for later use,
  • maintain road markings, either by painting them or replacing discoloured aggregate,
  • (in conjunction with smart cars) monitor the number and speed of cars using the road network and report this to a centralised or decentralised traffic control system,
  • report any major defects that they can't fix to a central location so that a larger robotic maintenace vehicle can attend to the repairs,
  • serve as a self repairing communications system between major population centres,
  • remove rubbish from the road reserve,
  • repair non-functional and upgrade out-dated members of the quadrotor fleet, or return them to the factory for recycling,
  • automatically transport themselves to where they are needed after coming off the assembly line.

A quadrotor in action

External Links & References

  1. Researchers developing drones to autonomously repair the cities of the future - Gizmag (October 2015)
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