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
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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Seasteading Floating Cities
'It was a remarkable island, circular, about half a kilometer in diameter.' - Otfrid von Hanstein, 1930.
Aequoreas Floating Village 3D Printed From Ocean Junk
'... the Floating Island chain of independent international corporate entities.' - Larry Niven, 2000.
PassivDom 3D Printed House - What If You Could Live Anywhere?
'The houses are prefabricated units...' - Clifford Simak, 1952.
Rosemont Hotel Dubai Has Lobby Rainforest
'The braided waterfalls and hanging gardens that spilled down the arcology's levels..' - Paolo Bacigalupi, 2015.
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.
Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme.
Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.'
Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...'
Blockchain Used To Verify Election Results
'Any adult could punch into the phone his or her code, followed by a yes or no.'
IJOP Integrated Joint Operations Platform China's Minority Report?
'All day long the idiots babbled, imprisoned in their special high-backed chairs...'
HushMe Bluetooth Device Reinvents The Hush-A-Phone
'Talking into a hush-a-phone which he had plugged into the telephone jack...'
Ultrathin Brain Needle Developed At MIT
Putting drugs into a selected cubic millimeter within the living brain.
Tesla Semi Truck Now At Work
Why wait? Tesla Semi now hard at work.
Illustris: The Next Generation Of Universe Simulation
'This digital device was ... A machine able literally to contain the Universe Itself...'
Scaly Yet Soft Robotic Snake
Love those robotic sneks.
Cool Tinsley Lunar Unicycle Update
Great update of a timeless classic.
NASA's 'Armstrong' Soft Wearable Upper Extremity Garment
'Exact same articulation as your shoulder joint, and it holds your muscles out of the way...'
Kuri Robot Roams Your Home, Taking Pictures
'Small devices with cameras and sound equipment which could move freely...'
Tiny Rubbery Robot To Take 'Fantastic Voyage'
I think that I will wait for other volunteers for this one.
Svalbard Seed Vault (aka Doomsday Vault) Gets Upgrades
'But they existed in the Life Bank, as did virtually every plant and animal that existed on Old Earth.'
Disney Vyloo Robots With Personality
'Let's build robots with Genuine People Personalities...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories