Informatics graduate awarded the Growth Innovation Award

[24/06/2024] School of Informatics graduate, Elijah Hoole won an Inspire Launch Grow Award for his company RoadGauge Ltd, which aims to enhance the detection and management of common road problems, such as potholes. RoadGauge’s approach not only promises to streamline maintenance procedures but also aims to do so in an environmentally friendly way. The Award includes 10 free hours of legal expertise for the company.

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Employing AI to improve cycle paths

Currently, the most advanced technology for 3D profiling of road surfaces is laser scanning. However, laser-based road scanners are extremely expensive and not widely available. Only a few large authorities can afford to own one, while others must rent these scanners along with operators at an hourly rate. This leads to irregular road inspections and reactive road maintenance, which is 20 times more expensive than preventive maintenance and is damaging to the environment. 

RoadGauge Ltd 3D profile roads to millimetre accuracy from a single GoPro video stream using AI and innovative 3D reconstruction methods, including structure from motion. Their technology is built on years of fundamental research in computer vision, AI, and 3D reconstruction for pavement surfaces conducted by Elijah and his colleagues. 

As a result of solely relying on cameras for sensing, their technology is particularly suited for inspecting cycle paths and footways. Cameras can be hand-held or mounted to bicycles or trikes. Laser scanners mounted on vehicles can only perform partial data capture while driving adjacent to footways as parked cars or bollards often block the view.  

RoadGauge Ltd aims to cut pavement inspection costs by 50%, help slash transport sector greenhouse emissions by ~2%, and enable active mobility for sustainable cities. 

Recently, the company has completed paid projects and trials in the UK, Australia, Italy, Brazil, and elsewhere; and expect a busy summer with more projects. Besides closing their first funding round, they are focused on increasing sales of their product. 

The team

Elijah is one of two co-founders at RoadGauge Ltd and is currently focusing on leading their fund-raising efforts and initiatives. He is supported by close friend and co-founder, Senthen Mathavan, who primarily drives technology development and sales. Both are Sri Lankan founders, educated in the UK, and are building the company to benefit both the UK and their home country. They are further supported by development teams across Pakistan and Sri Lanka.  

We consider it our social mission to support and sustain tech talent in these countries which have high inflation and high brain drain.

From Electronic to Natural Language Processing – Elijah's journey

Elijah grew up in a small fishing town in Sri Lanka and studied Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the South Eastern University of Sri Lanka, a state funded university in Sri Lanka. The undergraduate programme focussed on power engineering, circuit design, and communications systems and less so on computer science and programming. During his time as an undergraduate student, Elijah worked as a freelance translator, translating between English and Tamil.  

Elijah’s interest in Artificial Intelligence began in 2017, when Google released their first neural network-based English to Tamil translation system. Surprised and fascinated by the improvement from the older (statistical) system, he recognised the transformative potential of AI and set out to master the technology. 

In 2021, Elijah enrolled on the School of Informatics’ MSc Artificial Intelligence programme, heavily focusing on natural language processing, and aligning perfectly with his ‘deep love’ for languages and writing. His current career straddles both computer vision and AI. 

I am incredibly grateful for my year at the School of Informatics as a master's student: I learned so much, made great friends, and had a smashing time in the best city in the world. I hope to be back in Edinburgh sometime in August and see if I can sneak into Appleton Tower for a view of Arthur's Seat under the late summer evening sun.

Inspire Launch Grow Awards

Inspire Launch Grow is the University of Edinburgh’s annual celebration of enterprising students and recent graduates. The event focuses on recognizing innovation, creativity, and successes as well as the resilience, ambition, and accomplishments of entrepreneurs from our university.  

In collaboration with Edinburgh Innovations, Inspire Launch Grow awards can accelerate start-ups with support, pitching advice and cash prizes to help take them to the next level. Start-ups can enter three main categories and be in with a chance of winning a share of the £48,000 prize fund.  

Winning the ILG has been huge. We are now talking to potential investors who we met at the event and we have been invited to participate in regional and national start-up events, which we hope would help us meet other investors and partners.

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