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County Fits AI Cameras to Target Potholes for Fast Fixing

Published on: 21 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 22 Mar, 2021

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

Surrey County Council is trialling artificial intelligence cameras to spot potholes, fitting them to all their Highways vans to target and measure ruts in the roads.

As well as assessing the damage, sensors measure the road temperature to work out when gritting is needed. The council patches an average of 50,000 potholes a year.

Cllr Matt Furniss (Con, Shalford), cabinet member for highways, said: “We are well aware potholes are an area of concern for our residents and we want to do all we can to help improve this.

“The aspiration is to determine if these technologies can be used to give us data more quickly and with better degrees of accuracy from which to make decisions about our highway network.”

Cllr Matt Furniss

After the cold snap at the start of this month, the council had reports of nearly 400 road defects a day across the county, 586 in one day.

Cllr Furniss said 22 gangs were now dealing with safety defects, up from 10 to 15, “fixing all reported priority 2 and 3 defects [those to be repaired in one or four weeks] in an average of 3.6 working days”.

Surrey council leader Tim Oliver (Con, Weybridge) believes the failure by the Department for Transport to assess traffic volumes when determining how much to fund local governments is unfair.

“We get the same pound per mile as everywhere else, and yet we get far more traffic,” he said.

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Responses to County Fits AI Cameras to Target Potholes for Fast Fixing

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    March 21, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    Yet again, Cllr Matt Furniss ignores the entirety of the pothole issue.

    If around 400 potholes a day are reported during a cold snap, irrespective of classification, how many are repaired (not reappearing a week or so later) a day?

    In other words, is the schedule of pothole repairs increasing or decreasing?

    What are the estimates for when Surrey will have pothole-free roads, or for when reported potholes will be repaired within a week?

    How much of the infamous £200 million ‘investment’ over five years is going on pothole scheme improvements like AI cameras?

  2. Frank Phillipson Reply

    March 21, 2021 at 8:44 pm

    Are the county council highways drivers not able to see potholes for themselves? I doubt that they are going to traverse all the counties roads so there will be limited coverage in any case.

    If they had a dash cam with sound recorder, they could visually as well as audibly note the location of potholes as they pass them. Do we need this technological (probably expensive) sledgehammer to crack this nut? The ones reported by the public at present don’t seem to be attended to that quickly.

    The existing system of gritting seems to work reasonably well. I don’t think drivers with their AI sensor vehicles are going to be sent out to find out if the roads are icy!

    • Russell Morris Reply

      March 24, 2021 at 7:07 am

      I guess the potential advantage of an AI system is that it might not just spot potholes, but also plots them, assesses them, and downloads the data too. If it can do that, it may be worthwhile.

      Council van drivers, with other tasks on their mind and with their eyes on other traffic, may not notice or may forget the precise location of a defect. In any case, after a long shift, I suspect the last thing they want to do is to review their day’s cam footage, log on to their laptops and complete numerous long pro-formas.

      I know, as someone who has reported several potholes, there were many more I failed to report because I forgot, was uncertain of the exact location, had other things on my mind, was too busy, too impatient, too tired, or just never got round to it. If an automatic system can be developed to help with the task, then great. Let’s at least give this a try.

  3. Ramsey Nagaty Reply

    March 22, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    Potholes are usually measured and only if of a certain size are they repaired. The particular hole to be repaired is identified, marked in red and then later the repairers fill the pothole.

    There could well be two or three smaller holes, which will undoubtedly get bigger fairly soon, not filled at the same time.

    Surely repairing all those large or small whilst the repair vehicle and workmen are there is more economic than just repairing the big hole and having to return shortly afterwards for the smaller holes once deemed to be at or above the required size.

    Ramsey Nagaty is a GGG borough councillor for Shalford

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