Monday, August 24, 2015

Road Maintenance

Reed had a good idea when we were traveling a few weeks ago.

He said I don't understand why there isn't a machine they can drive along at highway speed that can sense the need for a patch, crack repair or repainted lines. Use cameras, then apply the needed material as you go. They would be able to fix roads in no time with little or no down time. You wouldn't need all the cones and signs and other trappings of summer contruction.

At first I thought this idea might fit in the catagory of the robot he wanted to design when he was 10 to pull weeds on the farm, so he didn't have to do it. This technology is now available by the way and will likely be implemented as this technology becomes more cost effective.

But in the case of road maintenance I think he might be on to something.

I could see some issues with keeping enough repair materials on the machine to allow high speed operation. Maybe you could do 5-10 miles and then reload. Or maybe you tow a caravan of supplies that are constantly fed to the repair machine.

I haven't seen any articles to this effect, but some of the new “additive manufacturing process” might be adapted to this. Additive manufacturing is where you use a device like a printer to build up layer on layer of material until a part emerges from the process. This approach lends itself to many diverse materials from plastics, to biological scaffolding, to metals, to “roads” ???

This would be a little ourside the box, but might be work thinking about.

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