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Councils awarded roads repair cash

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The Government has awarded 32 local authorities a share of £93.4 million to repair roads and bridges.

A further £900,000 will fund scientists, innovators, academics and tech-focused start-ups to research new ways to future proof the UK’s roads.

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.

Senior lecturer at the University of Liverpool Paolo Paoletti 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 T-TRIG 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 Freight Transport Association (FTA) welcomed the investment. Christopher Snelling, head of UK policy at FTA, said: “Businesses within the logistics sector rely on efficient, effective road networks to keep goods moving across the UK, but too often, these operators are forced to travel along damaged, congested roads which increase journey times and can cause costly damage to vehicles.

“These businesses are paying the price for an ongoing lack of investment in the road network; the performance of the UK economy has also suffered as a result.”  

However, he said it was “disappointing” that the funding package fell short of being able to tackle the poor state of roads across the nation. 

“Taxes on UK road transport are the highest in Europe,” continued Snelling. “HGVs alone pay enough tax to fund more than 90% of the current amount spent on road maintenance in the UK. 

“More investment is needed urgently and we hope that this is the first step in the creation and completion of a more comprehensive road improvement strategy.” 

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