Roadfix project by 3 Polimi students wins the James Dyson Award

A revolutionary tool that provides an advertising platform for sponsors while repairing roads

A team of three Polimi students won the Italian edition of the James Dyson Award, an international design prize that celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of design engineers. They stood out as the best young inventors among more than 2,000 participants who submitted groundbreaking inventions from 28 countries and regions. Open to students and recent graduates in design and engineering, the award is a great opportunity to make a name for yourself internationally.

The team consists of Master's students in Intregrated Product Design: Luca Grosso and Alessio Puleo are graduates, while Silvana Migliozzi is an undergraduate.

The winning project is called Roadfix: a tool that revolutionises the way in which road damage is repaired, creating a new aesthetic and commercial opportunity geared towards social value.

The machine repairs small defects in the road surface while also providing advertising space for companies to place their logo on the pothole and sponsor the repair, while benefiting the community and gaining economic and image value.

Accidents due to poor road maintenance are the biggest cost burden for municipalities. Potholes are among the main causes of accidents, especially for those with micro-mobility.

The idea of Roadfix was developed from this data, with the aim of improving road safety, simplifying the work of road operators and opening up new marketing opportunities. The inspiration comes from the Japanese art of Kintsugi, or repairing broken objects with gold to enhance the cracks and give them a new life. The vision is to upgrade road defects by making them resources for the city.

But how does Roadfix work?

Inside the container, water and cement powder are mixed by means of a whisk driven by the electric motor inside the rear wheel. Once the mix is ready, the operator rotates the box forward using the dedicated button on the handle, while opening the lid with the other button to release the flow of mortar into the defect. By pushing Roadfix forward the rear wheel will compact the mortar and imprint the texture on the ground. Using the customisable tread, companies will be able to place their own logo on the tyre so that they can imprint a brand on the patch. They can also place graphics on the sides of the machine to provide visibility during road repairs. This new opportunity will make it possible to find companies willing to advertise and help our cities.

What makes Roadfix different from the products on the market today?

Nowadays, potholes are repaired using cold or hot bitumen and a shovel for filling and smoothing. These methods provide makeshift repairs that have a very limited lifespan and result in an unattractive aesthetic effect. Roadfix not only enables more precise and safer repairs, but also offers a new service: allowing companies to advertise their brand through road repairs by stamping their logo on the concrete. By doing so, the advertisements will deliver double value: for the company itself, but above all for the cities.

The initial design concept was created during the Concept Design Laboratory by Prof. Massimo Bianchini at the Politecnico. After an early research and idea generation phase, it was developed with a study model and tested to understand its ergonomics, proportions and user experience.

The next step is to create a new prototype equipped with electrical components for a new road test phase, and have some of the operators try it out to understand the ergonomics and user experience issues in more detail. Companies operating in similar sectors were also identified to propose collaborations to the project.

Find out more

The project's page on the James Dyson Award website