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Researchers Are Developing Pothole-Repairing Drones

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Anyone who’s had to navigate around potholes knows how inefficient humans can be at fixing infrastructure—which is why one group of researchers at the UK's University of Leeds is now looking into enlisting fleets of drones to solve our repair woes.

The university is teaming up with the city of Leeds to develop fleets of drones designed to recognize and fix basic infrastructure issues. The key advantage the drones will have over human workers will be their ability to discreetly perform repairs in less-accessible areas. “Our robots will undertake precision repairs and avoid the need for large construction vehicles in the heart of our cities,” the university’s director of National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems Rob Richardson told Popular Science.

The team will focus on developing three different types of repair drones. In addition to a watchful drone that can coast along the streets, identifying, repairing, and preventing potholes, they will also be working on a model that surveys and fixes damage to sewers and utility pipes, and a drone that can “perch” like a bird and fix hard-to-reach places. The team has just been awarded a grant of £4.2 million ($6.5 million USD) to begin research on the project, so there’s no saying when these fleets of repair drones will be ready to patrol the roads. For now, we’ll have to continue relying on passive-aggressive graffiti to get our potholes filled. 

[h/t: Popular Science]

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The Evolution of the U.S. Interstate
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Following the passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 at the behest of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 9067 miles of paved road were constructed in over a dozen states. This, of course, was the first year of the U.S. Interstate, a system that now covers nearly 50,000 miles and accounts for a quarter of all highway traffic in the country.

Geotab, a company specializing in GPS vehicle tracking devices, illustrated the evolution of the Interstate System with a new infographic. It charts the growth of what some have hailed as the “greatest public works project in history.” (However, not everyone loved it, and some people who had been displaced by the construction organized protests in the ‘60s, causing work to shut down in some areas.)

Regardless, it remains a crucial part of America's transportation network. To see how the interstate has changed over the years, check out Geotab’s infographic below.

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William West, AFP/Getty Images
For Pizza's Sake: Domino's is Filling America's Potholes To Protect Their Pies
William West, AFP/Getty Images
William West, AFP/Getty Images

If there's one thing that Domino's cares about, it's the integrity of their pizza. No longer will they overlook the casualties of delivery—all those sad, squished pies and those toppings tossed to and fro along a bumpy backroad. The pizza chain is getting to the root of the problem and cracking down on potholes.

As Jalopnik reports, Domino's "Paving For Pizza" program has already hired road crews to patch up potholes in a number of U.S. cities, including 40 holes in Milford, Delaware, and 150 holes in Athens, Georgia. They've also hit California and Texas, and they're not exactly subtle about it, either. In place of a crater, Domino's leaves behind a patch of asphalt containing the brand's logo and the words "Oh yes we did."

The Paving For Pizza website features a "pothole impact meter" with footage showing the degree of "irreversible damage" that different road conditions—from mild to "catastrophic"—can do to a hapless pizza pie. Viewers be warned: This may be painful to watch.

Regardless of whether you're a Domino's devotee or more of a Pizza Hut fan, everyone wins when the roads are smoother. You can nominate your town to be the next stop on the national Paving For Pizza tour by clicking this link.

[h/t Jalopnik]

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