Government to invest £900,000 in future proofing UK road network

The Government is making nearly GBP1 million of investment available to fund scientists, innovators, academics and tech-focused start-uups to research new ways to future proof the UK's roads. The funding comes as part of a total of GBP93.4m of investment to repair roads and bridges across the 32 local authorities in the UK. This includes over GBP4m for crucial repairs to the New Elvet Bridge in Durham along with GBP3.7m to help refurbish several steel bridges around Northumberland.

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: "There is nothing more frustrating than a journey delayed by poor road conditions, and this multi-million pound boost will help improve connectivity across the country. "This investment will not only help local areas to target current pinch points on their roads, but will also harness our world-leading research and innovation capabilities to future proof the next generation of journeys." One of the projects to receive funding for tech projects will see the development of a new AI-powered app to detect potholes in real-time, using mobile phone sensors to measure when cyclists ride over or swerve to avoid them.

It is hoped the app will help local authorities to quickly identify when potholes are forming and take quicker action to fill them. Another project known as Shape-Pot will create 3D pothole models to create a fully autonomous repair platform capable of automatic, uniform repairs - accelerating the transport network of the future. Paolo Paoletti, senior lecturer at the University of Liverpool, said: "The Shape-Pot project has the potential to change the way roads and their defects are managed, promoting a data-driven approach to management and improving efficiency - making roads safer and more accessible.

"Thanks to the funding, the team will create a proof-of-principle autonomous robotic platform to characterise road surface, a first step toward autonomous maintenance of roads."

The GBP93.4m package is part of the Government's total GBP6.6 billion investment between 2015 and 2021 to improve the condition of the UK highway networks.

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