Infrastructure, be it roads, bridges, or water supply systems, is essential to the functioning of our society. Their wear and tear over time are inevitable, however, predictability around their failure or necessary repairs has remained a mystery. Our cities and communities have struggled to estimate the cost of their repair and restoration, thereby making planning and budgeting a challenge. People are faced with unexpected road closures, water supply disruptions, and utility failures affecting their daily lives. This problem has posed a challenge, until now.
Recently published under the patent number US20230318920A1, Autodesk, a name synonymous with infrastructure design, has offered a unique solution to this problem. Dubbed as the "Monetary Vulnerability Assessment (MVA) of a Reparable Infrastructure System", this tool aims to predict the costs required to repair failing infrastructure.
Previously, when a piece of public infrastructure, like a bridge, started showing signs of age or damage, it was unclear how much the repair would cost and when it would need to be done. This lack of clarity could lead to projects being delayed, or costs spiraling out of control as unexpected problems surfaced during the restoration process.
Autodesk's patent provides a planning tool that simulates different types of potential damage and repairs, running them through a 'game of chance' model to predict the costs. It takes the various uncertainties into account and lays out a comprehensive plan.
For instance, let's consider an aging bridge that requires some maintenance. Using this proposed tool, engineers would be able to reliably predict both when the bridge will likely need repair and how much it will cost. They could then plan and budget ahead, saving cities and citizens from dealing with unexpected infrastructure failure.
After such a solution is implemented, the big picture starts taking a more hopeful shape. Barring the usual contingencies of life, with these measures in place, we could look forward to cities that experience fewer unexpected road closures due to sudden repair work. Water supply disruptions would decrease, and the utility services would function without sudden and unplanned breakdowns.
Let's imagine your routine commute to work on the subway. Due to the implementation of this new tool, the authorities might predict a possible defect in the subway a year in advance - well before it causes any disruption. Funds could be allocated, repairs scheduled during off-peak hours, and done well before it impacts your daily travel.
Of course, whether or not we will see this invention manifested in products like Autodesk InfraWorks remains to be seen. While this patent holds great promise, it only marks the first step towards turning ideas into reality. Like all patents, its real-world implementation, market potential, and actual reception remain to be determined.
P.S. Remember, this is a patent and the idea it presents might or might not make it to our everyday world. Until then, let's hope for a world with fewer infrastructure breakdown surprises.