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Scientists are planning a 'self-repairing city' that would have its facilities maintained by an army of automatic drones.
Researchers at the University of Leeds have been awarded £4.2million to develop small robots that could be used to identify problems with street lights, potholes and utility pipes.
The drones, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, would inspect, diagnose and repair problems in the city centre.
Professor Phil Purnell, from the School of Civil Engineering, is leading the project and said his aim is 'to make Leeds the first city in the world to have zero disruption from street works'.
He added: 'We can support infrastructure that can be entirely maintained by robots and make the disruption caused by the constant digging up the road in our cities a thing of the past.'
Drones could soon be seeking out and repairing pot holes and other roading defects
City officials said they are 'delighted' with the news.
Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, added: 'We are very keen to explore new innovations and use the latest technologies to improve how the city runs.'
The project is part of ‘Engineering Grand Challenges’ research, which aims to tackle some of the major challenges facing science and engineering.
Researchers will also track the social, environmental, political and economic impact of the new technologies.
Dr Raul Fuentes, who also works at the university, said: 'The critical part of this project is being proactive rather than reactive.
'This is crucial to ensuring we have sustainable and resilient infrastructure.
'We will target our interventions so that they are invisible to the human eye, before they become a real problem.'