A ROBOT dog is being tested on the M5 in Somerset to assess embankments, roads, and bridges to end traffic jams, SWNS reports.

Highways officials have unveiled a robot dog, called Spot, working on motorways and roadsides.

Spot is being used to monitor and manage road repairs and can reach areas which are harder for humans to access.

It will retrieve data collected to help future operations and repairs - and ''reduce the need for costly and disruptive traffic management''.

Spot will monitor steep embankments, and slopes under tree canopies or hidden by vegetation, culverts, and under bridges and other structures.

Officials say Spot is safer and more cost-effective in areas which are hard to reach, where human inspectors face challenges and risks.

Weston Mercury: Spot is being tested on the M5 in SomersetSpot is being tested on the M5 in Somerset (Image: SWNS)

National Highways said: ''Alongside BAM Ritchies and AECOM, we're working together to make this innovation part of our working practices.

''We're expecting this remote technology to give more detailed results than conventional techniques.

''Last summer, BAM and AECOM teams put Spot through it's paces at our Moreton-in-Marsh development centre.

''Spot's capabilities were tested over a number of highways settings.

''These included different ground conditions and on earthworks of various slopes, heights and materials.

''Live trials on our road network should give us an even better idea of the system's capabilities.

''Spot's first live trial was alongside the M5 in Somerset.''

Guy Swains, Engineering Manager in our South West Geotechnical team, said: “The initial, ‘proof of concept’ testing has been encouraging and we’re now live trialling the robotic tool with a view to utilising it via our contractors in future survey work, particularly in locations which present challenges for our traditional methods.

“As part of an ongoing exploration, Spot’s capabilities will be tested over a variety of terrains and environments and in differing weather and ground conditions.

“The data from the trials will also be captured and analysed and dependent on results, hopefully we’ll be able to measure an improvement in safety methods and efficiencies and employ the technology in our future work.”

Matt Ewing, BAM Ritchies’ business development manager, said: “Technology can keep our people safe and repeatedly capture high-quality data, and having Spot undertake these trials demonstrates capability and evidence for further trials while making efficiencies in the delivery of work today.

“It’s about finding the right applications, and the team is focused on realising Spot’s potential.”

James Codd, AECOM’s associate director of Ground Engineering, said: “It’s a significant step, and could complement the existing geotechnical asset management and inspection processes, to improve the safety of inspectors and reduce the impact of their activities on people’s journeys.

“We are working closely with the teams and really believe there could be a permanent place for Spot in the geotechnical asset management toolkit.”