University spin out creates robot to fix pot holes
The University of Liverpool has formed a new spin out company – Robotiz3d – to take forward new technology that has the potential to radically transform road maintenance.
Robotiz3d is a joint venture in partnership with Manchester firm A2e, and will receive investment from the university’s Enterprise Investment Fund, alongside private equity investment from a2e.
The company will commercialise patented research from the university’s Engineering Robotics Lab.
The technology uses Artificial Intelligence and robotics to significantly improve the way road defects, including pot holes and road cracks, are detected and repaired.
Currently, no autonomous technology solutions exist to tackle the pothole crisis which plagues many parts of the country and is estimated to have cost more than £1bn to repair over the past decade.
Amongst the company founders are Dr Paolo Paoletti and Dr Sebastiano Fichera from the university’s School of Engineering, who have an extensive track record of research in this area and have been developing and trialling the technology over the past four years.
Dr Paoletti, who will serve as chief technology officer, said: “Robotiz3d will develop an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven robotic system to address the national and international potholes problems.
“The proposed system will be able to autonomously detect and characterise road defects such as cracks and potholes, assess and predict the severity of such defects, and fix cracks so that they do not evolve into potholes.”
Dr Fichera, technical director, said: “Current methods to detect and repair potholes are labour intensive and, as such, are slow, unsafe, and costly to the economy and environment.
“The new technology we are developing will make road maintenance tasks faster, cheaper, and cleaner and ultimately make roads safer and more accessible.”
Lisa Layzell, an award-winning senior executive and serial entrepreneur of high-tech companies, is a co-founder and CEO of Robotiz3d.
She said: “This is an exciting new spin out to take forward.
“The team at Robotiz3d has the expertise and experience in robotics and AI to deliver the project and introduce world-leading innovation to the management of roads and highways. We have developed a robust business plan to take forward the portfolio of Robotiz3d-envisaged products.”
Prof Anthony Hollander, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research & Impact at the University of Liverpool, said: “The University of Liverpool is committed to working with industry to put high-quality research results on a commercialisation path.
“By partnering with a2e, and putting solid investment behind Robotiz3d, we are aiming to make a real difference to the economy, society, and the environment”.
The formation of the company has been supported by the university’s IP Commercialisation Team led by Emma Nolan. Andrew Spencer, who works with academics in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, will take a position on the board.
The company will be based at Sci-Tech Daresbury.