UK's Self-Repairing Cities

British engineers are determined to create self-repairing cities using (what else?) drones. The intent is that small flying robots will notice and repair everything; potholes, streetlights and utility pipes.

The University of Leeds recently won 4.2 million pound grant (about $6.5 million USD) from the U.K.’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to create a national infrastructure for so-called “self-repairing cities..."

The team, led by civil engineer Phil Purnell and including researchers from University College London and the Universities of Birmingham and Southampton, is currently working on three drone designs. One set of robots will be responsible for “perch and repair,” meaning they will perch, like birds, on tall structures and make small repairs to things like streetlights. The “perceive and patch” robots will not only automatically inspect, diagnose, and repair potholes in the road, but will also prevent future ones from forming. And “fire and forget” drones will monitor and repair utility pipes as needed.

The advantage? Using drones means that problems can be detected and fixed early on, so the city won’t have to perform large and disruptive repairs down the line. “Most of what we’re proposing is for the drones to do very simple and mundane tasks,” Purnell says. “When you look at major infrastructure failures—things like potholes or failures in pipe lines—they’re often caused by very small, millimeter-scale defects. And if those were caught early by an automated system, then the larger failures and inconveniences wouldn’t occur.”

Yes, you'd hate for "inconveniences to occur". My only caveat about this shiny sfnal future is that it seems to so often go bad. I think one of the earliest mentions of a city that takes care of itself is the machine city from science fiction legend John W. Campbell's 1934 story Twilight:

The city was divided into two sections, a section of many strata where machines functioned smoothly, save for a deep humming beat that echoed through the whole city like a vast unending song of power.

Seven or even seventy million years don't mean much to old Mother Earth. She may even succeed in wearing down those marvelous machine cities...

When the builders made those cities, they forgot one thing. They didn't realize that things shouldn't go on forever.

That's fine, as far as it goes. But in Robert Silverberg's The Man in the Maze, the city actually defends itself against invaders with horrific traps; Ray Bradbury refers to cities that not only kill invaders but also clean up after themselves.

Fans of Stanislaw Lem might recall the idea of repair robots in his wonderful 1954 novel The Invincible:

Faint rattling noises came from inside the hull as if swarms of tiny animals were busily scurrying about scratching the metal walls with their sharp little claws. This was the sign that the repair robots had started out on their rounds, checking the solidity of the braces of the ship's framework; making sure that the hull had not been damaged anywhere and that all seams were still welded tight.
(Read more about Stanislaw Lem's repair robots)

See this story about self-contained Russian lighthouses, as well as this article on the Bridge-MINDER Repair Robot

Via CityLab.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/16/2015)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Living Space ")

Driverless Hotel Rooms Predicted In 1828
'Did you never see a moving house before?' - Jane Webb Loudon, 1828.

Humans Could Take Up A LOT Less Space
We'd have a lot more room for gardening...

Oh Yes, We're Building The Rotating Tower In Dubai
'Give me an old-fashioned tetragon on a central pivot every time.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.

Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Life imitates art imitates life.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Unfurl The Future! Huawei Mate X versus Galaxy Fold
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently from the top of the unit and immediately grew rigid.'

Amazon Echo And Google Home Should Have Morality Software
'The Dwoskin Morality Rating-Computer could 'spot the slightest tendency to deviation' from the social norm...'

China Building Robot Wives
'Want a life-companion, a pleasant one?'

China Social Credit System Like State-Run Whuffie
'At least there was no mandatory Whuffie check on the monorail platform...'

Project Soli Radar Gesture Chip Now FCC Approved
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.'

Stan, Robot Valet, Will Drag Your Car Away
'He activated the grapple tracks. '

Jibo Home Robot Says Goodbye, Is Killswitched
'It resembles an oyster....'

Johns Hopkins Says Asteroid Deflection Will Be Difficult
'This obelisk is one huge deflector mechanism...'

Fabric Automatically Cools Or Insulates Based On Environment
'...a high-efficiency filter and heat-exchange system.'

Deepfakes From OpenAI GPT-2 Algorithm
'How can you compete with an IBM heavy-duty logomatic analogue?'

John Deere Self-Driving Tractor
'The huge plow... seemed to shake itself - and began to move back southward.'

North Focals Smart Glasses Provide Augmented Reality In Style
'The world ... is drenched in unfamiliar information all the way to the horizon.'

Tesla Driver Caught Napping Behind The Wheel
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...'

Hayabusa 2 To Begin Asteroid Mining
'We must dig down, and then doubtless we shall find the metal.'

Ionocraft Drone Powered By Electrohydrodynamic Thrust
'He saw one hiss by him as he rounded the corner, trailing a short whip antenna...'

Purdue Pharma Ready To Profit From OxyContin Use Or Addiction Recovery
'It may be organic damage. It may be permanent. Time'll tell, and only after you are off Substance D for a long while.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.