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Holey roads

Across New Zealand cars are being damaged at increasing rates due to potholes and damaged road surfaces. The situation is so bad, apparently, the National Party is campaigning on the issue. The Party launched “Pothole of the Week” in October and are encouraging Kiwis to post photos of the worst offenders via National’s Facebook page. They’ve also started a petition calling on the Government to take action on fixing damaged roads.

Northlanders are feeling “short changed” on their road taxes as media reports have compared Northland’s roads to those in Asia. A Northland resident and ex-race car driver was reported saying they are worse than roads in Indonesia. Some motorists in the north, and across New Zealand, have resorted to fixing the potholes themselves.

Blame it on the rain

NZTA blames increased rainfall for creating more potholes than usual during the winter.

At the end of October, NZTA advised motorists in the Waikato to “Avoid non-essential driving (in the rain) if you want to avoid the potholes.” The Agency blames bad weather limiting the ability of road workers to fix problematic road damage.

AA Road Safety Spokesperson, Dylan Thompson, disagreed with that assessment. While being interviewed on NewsTalkZB, he explained that potholes and degraded road surfaces are a symptom of the lack of investment in quality road maintenance.

AI to the rescue

A local company, Leaven, has developed an AI-based system to make the business of fixing potholes more efficient.

The system takes video footage of road surfaces using low-cost GoPro cameras and specialised bumper mounts on an assessor’s vehicle. 

The platform then reviews millions of images, analysing damage, classifying defects and estimates the scope of repairs in real time. That means data can be processed and assessed almost as fast as video is captured.

The company is part of the Spark Business Group and helped them win the Amazon Web Services’ 2022 Regional and Global AWS Innovation Partner Award in Las Vegas in November.

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