Sector - Logistics

Intelligent road repairs among eight new Prosperity Partnerships

Intelligent road repairs are among the revolutionary technologies being developed through eight new projects. The business-led Prosperity Partnerships were announced in July in support of the government’s ambitious new Innovation Strategy. They are supported with an investment of almost £60M by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), businesses and universities.

They include a partnership between; construction and engineering company Costain, Highways England, and the University of Cambridge.

Using a digital twinning system that visualises the road and its condition, it would allow highways agencies and councils to identify when repair work is needed, with roads able to repair themselves using self-healing materials, so called intelligent road repairs.

This would:

  • negate the need for laborious and costly on-site inspections
  • prevent unnecessary delays to motorists because of road works
  • reduce the emissions generated by roadworks.

The partnership aims to use technology to develop roads utilising:

  • digital twins
  • intelligent materials
  • data science
  • robotic monitoring.

It aims to create connected physical and digital products and associated processes that can improve the cost, time, quality, safety, sustainability, and resilience performance of expressways.

The resulting system will use self-sensing and self-healing materials on and off the road surface to inform the road’s digital twin through robotic monitoring.

These in turn, along with other data, will inform the data-science enabled digital processes in making better:

  • design
  • construction
  • maintenance
  • operation predictions.

This will allow proactive, robotic interventions and road maintenance schemes that are more sustainable through the smarter use of resources.

Prosperity Partnerships build on existing UK strengths in industry and academia to develop new technologies, processes, and skills that will deliver economic growth and create jobs across the UK.

EPSRC Executive Chair Professor Dame Lynn Gladden said: “Artificial intelligence, digital chemistry and digital twins are some of the new and transformative technologies that will help to drive the Net Zero revolution, address major societal challenges, and deliver prosperity to the UK.

“By bringing together UK businesses and universities, these new Prosperity Partnerships will generate the knowledge and innovations that will enable these cutting-edge technologies to realise their transformative potential across a diverse range of sectors.”

The new Prosperity Partnerships bring the total number of partnerships launched by EPSRC to 47 with a total investment of £335M.

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