Lowering potholes with new technology

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Australia (Commonwealth Union) – Millions of potholes across the world continue to be a menace to drivers. Roads located in remote areas are less likely to receive prompt action with potholes that can increase the risk of accidents. The need to fix the causes of potholes is usually a key concern for authorities.

Researchers have produced new “intelligent compaction” technology, that goes into a road roller and monitors in real-time the quality of road base compaction. Enhanced road construction has the ability to bring down potholes and maintenance costs, paving the way for safer roads. The innovative machine-learning procedure processes data from a sensor connected to a construction roller.

The procedure was produced by a study team from the University of Technology Sydney, led by Associate Professor Behzad Fatahi, head of geotechnical and transport engineering, along with Professor Hadi Khabbaz, Dr Di Wu together with PhD student Zhengheng Xu. “We have developed an advanced computer model that incorporates machine-learning and big data from construction sites to predict the stiffness of compacted soil with a high degree of accuracy in a fraction of second, so roller operators can make adjustments,” Associate Professor Fatahi said. “Over-compaction can break down the material and change its composition, and under-compaction can lead to uneven settlement,” he noted, adding that a well-compacted multi-layer road base gives a stable foundation elevating the capacity of a road to take on heavy loads, where trucks may weigh up to 40 tonnes.

Researcher are hoping to take things to the next level by testing the new technology onsite, for a variety of ground and roller conditions on road, railway and dam constructions, and evaluate procedures to measure density and moisture content of the compacted soil in real-time as construction is underway.

The findings were published in the journal Engineering Structures, indicating that using this technology may assist in constructing longer-lasting roads with a greater ability to withstand intense weather conditions.

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