New technology speeds up inspection of flood-damaged roads

New technology speeds up inspection of flood-damaged roads

Authorities in New South Wales and Victoria are using new technology to speed up repairs to roads damaged by flooding.

Authorities in Victoria and NSW plan to use new technology to assess severely flood-damaged roads in both urban and rural areas in both states – but with two different approaches.

NSW plans to fit sensors on a fleet of public buses to scan the road network, while Victoria officials plan to deploy up to three trucks operated by the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) equipped with specialist scanning equipment.

Launched in Victoria, the system, dubbed iPAVE – which stands for Intelligent Pavement Assessment Vehicle – is attached to a truck pulling a large semi-trailer.

The technology is capable of continuously collecting video and data on roadway deflection, road surface condition, geometry and spatial location, with the latest of the three also equipped with ground-penetrating radar to measure structural conditions beneath the asphalt to judge.

The ARRB software then collects and synchronizes the data so roads in need of repair can be prioritized for repair.

“Crews are already beginning to complete large-scale, long-term repairs and this data will help plan further work to ensure communities hardest hit by these floods remain connected to essential supplies and services,” the Victorian said Minister for Roads and Traffic Safety, Melissa Horne said in a media statement.

Meanwhile, NSW road authorities are experimenting with a different type of road damage assessment technology.

ARRB has worked with the University of NSW to fit custom Cisco routers on public buses operating in the greater Sydney area, with the routers using an accelerometer to record the roughness of the road.

Using the same technology in a smartphone, the accelerometer can detect large movements and bumps caused by poor road surfaces.

The regularity of buses on Sydney’s main routes means consistent data can be collected without the need for additional vehicles or traffic controls. Transport for NSW can then assess where there may be potholes or other road problems.

The NSW government recently pledged an additional $500 million to help repair flood-damaged roads, in addition to its annual $1.5 billion earmarked for state-wide road maintenance.

In December 2022, the ARRB estimated flood damage nationwide would total about $3.8 billion in taxpayer-funded repairs.

In March 2022, the Federal Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Economics released a report estimating that around 1200 Australians lose their lives each year, with poor quality roads being a major contributor.

Ben Zechariah

Ben Zachariah is a veteran Melbourne-based writer and motoring journalist who has worked in the automotive industry for over 15 years. Previously a truck driver, Ben completed his MBA in Finance in early 2021. He is considered an expert in the field of classic car investments.

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