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Should you find yourself traversing the streets north of London and happen upon a weird black vehicle creeping along at a snail’s pace, give it some space. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have lasers. But it does have the ability to detect cracks in the pavement and seal them up, all on its own. It’s called the Autonomous Road Repair System—ARRES for short—and it’s currently undergoing real-world testing in Hertfordshire.

Yes, it looks a bit scary. New Atlas likens the angular body to the Tesla Cybertruck, though we get more of a Syd Mead / Blade Runner vibe from its odd proportions. And let’s overlook the fact that its acronym-formed name is shared with the god of war in Greek mythology. There are no oscillating red lights that we can see, so presumably it’s safe from becoming an evil murder-bot bent on destroying humanity. It does have some pretty cool wheels, though.

 

Kidding aside, the really cool stuff is what we can’t see. Developed by researchers at the University of Liverpool and a tech company called Robotiz3d, it uses a variety of sensors, cameras, and other tech in conjunction with patching equipment that fills cracks all on its own. That said, ARRES can be remotely controlled by a human operator, but the whole point of the project is to develop something that can autonomously conduct road repairs 24 hours a day.

According to the Hertfordshire County Council, the project has been in development since 2020 and recently completed its first real-world test. Specific details on exactly how it works aren’t revealed just yet, but trials will continue in the region to further fine-tune the system for official use. There are also plans to build a larger version that can lead an army of terminators accomplish even more automated road repair tasks.

“We are dedicated to our mission to help build a safe and sustainable road infrastructure through intelligent, and automated maintenance and repair,” said Sebastiano Fichera, co-founder and technical director at Robotiz3d.

“ARRES Prevent is designed to autonomously perform crack sealing tasks by combining the groundbreaking features of ARRES Eye, our cutting-edge AI-powered road survey solution with state-of-the-art robotics and unmanned mobility, to proactively reduce the number of potholes. Working with Hertfordshire County Council has accelerated our development pace, propelling us towards our goal of revolutionizing road maintenance practices.”

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