Researchers are building new drones and robots that could fix potholes on roads and leaks in city pipe networks.

They will target problems in cities that are invisible to the human eye, fixing them before they become a nuisance for residents.

The researchers are from the University of Leeds in Britain, and have US$6.48m in funding. They will develop autonomous systems for three areas:

  • Drones that can perch on tall structures, like street lights, to make repairs.
  • Autonomous drones that can detect, repair and prevent potholes on roads.
  • Robots that can operate indefinitely, inspecting and repairing cracks in water, sewage and electricity pipes.

These new technologies could do away with the regular digging and construction equipment on roads that disrupt residents.

The researchers will track the social, environmental, political and economic impact of using these new technologies in cities.

The technology will be tested and trialled in Leeds.