Funding boost for graffiti fighting robots

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Wall-climbing robots are among the solutions to win funding from a National Highways competition, which aims to tackle graffiti from alongside England’s roads in the future.

National Highways, formerly Highways England, aims to tackle the blight of graffiti by finding new products to remove it, but also discover potential solutions that will prevent vandalism appearing in the first place.

The competition was launched, with partners Kier and Connected Places Catapult, to harvest innovative and modern solutions to the graffiti problem. Winning ideas receive up to £30,000 to spend taking their products forward.

More than a dozen companies submitted their concepts and products, the five most promising entries have now been announced.

This includes Innovation Factory which has developed audio sensors to detect the application of graffiti in order to alert authorities. The sensors also trigger audio and visual deterrents.

Birmingham-based HausBots submitted its wall-climbing robots, these will be used to apply graffiti preventative paints. This reduces the risk of such hazards as working at heights for the workforce.

While, Sensing Feeling’s AI-powered software will analyse behaviour to detect vandals at graffiti hotspots, enabling deterrents such as alarms and lights to be activated.

Additional projects include the use of lasers to remove graffiti from surfaces and a 3D chemical coating to prevent the adhesion of graffiti to a variety of surfaces and films.

National Highways head of innovation, Annette Pass, said: “We are very excited about taking forward these fascinating, innovative solutions that could help us tackle the relentless problem of graffiti which takes up time and money that would be better spent elsewhere on our network.

“The standard of entries was very high and difficult decisions had to be made to whittle them down to a final five. But we are confident that as we develop these ideas further we will be able to identify modern solutions to this age-old problem.”

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