Blackpool Council invests in pioneering AI to boost road maintenance

Blackpool Council is investing in artificial intelligence to improve its road maintenance programme and save hundreds of thousands of pounds in a move which the Department of Transport hopes will set an example for other councils.

The technology locates pot holes, cracks and general damage. The AI can detect damage in seconds, sending a signal to an operator who uses a colour coding system to decide what steps to take next.

A pilot has already taken place in Anchorsholme and Bispham, which enabled engineers to view the road network using space satellite image capturing. The highways team then inspected the roads and took action.

Since summer 2019, 5,145 potholes have been filled in North Shore which would have cost £1.5m using traditional methods, but were completed for less than £450,000.

Cllr Fred Jackson, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Highways, said: “Project Amber and the use of artificial intelligence is another forward thinking and innovative approach that will deliver not only significant savings but will also benefit all road users.

“Blackpool Council is on a dynamic journey to deliver a Better Blackpool and drive regeneration. More efficient road maintenance technology can play a key part of that ambition.”

We hope that Blackpool will act as a showcase of what can be achieved by local authorities

Steve Berry, head of local roads at the Department for Transport, said: “We hope that Project Amber will act as a showcase of what can be achieved by local authorities working in partnership with the supply chain to achieve lower whole life costs in highway maintenance through the use of surface treatments.”

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