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Hazard Detecting Vehicles

January 10, 2013

The research developed by the VOTERS center for detecting road hazards was featured in Popular Science. The VOTERS Center is an $18 million project led by COE Distinguished Professor Ming Wang of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  The Center, which is supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Technology Innovation Program, develops new sensors that are mounted on vehicles driving through traffic so as to detect and monitor the damage state of roadways, bridge decks, and other infrastructure.

The VOTERS project created a simple, inexpensive way to detect surface and subsurface roadway defects, enabling continuous network-wide health monitoring of roadways without setting up hazardous and expensive work zones, and providing accurate up-to-date pavement condition information to decision-makers.

Despite being the lifeline of commerce, civil infrastructure is just at the beginning of benefiting from the latest advances in sensor technologies that provide for cost-effective monitoring and threat reduction.  According to the latest ASCE report card ( US roads only get a grade of D, commenting that “Forty-two percent of America’s major urban highways remain congested, and costing the economy an estimated $101 billion in wasted time and fuel annually.  While the conditions have improved in the near term, and Federal, state, and local capital investments increased to $91 billion annually, that level of investment is insufficient and still projected to result in a decline in conditions and performance in the long term.  Currently, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that $170 billion in capital investment would be needed on an annual basis to significantly improve conditions and performance.”