A new proof-of-concept seeking to improve how road data is gathered and analyzed could soon make maintaining and improving roads a much more efficient process. All while keeping drivers aware of any potential hazards.
The one-year proof-of-concept saw the City of Detroit, tactile sensing and data solutions provider Tactile Mobility, and a major Detroit-based automaker come together to optimize maintenance and improve safety on the thousands of miles of roadways in the city. The project, already in the process of wrapping up, was awarded a grant from PlanetM and attempted using Tactile Mobility’s in-vehicle software and analytics capabilities to provide a continuously updated mapping solution, according to For Construction Pros.
Making Roadway Analysis Smarter
The joint effort is a big leap forward in road condition data gathering. It will provide automated analysis to shed better light on road safety so that cities can keep a better eye on their networks of roads. Municipalities will thus be able to perform better targeted preventative maintenance, allowing them to more efficiently dispatch repair crews to sections of roadway that need fixing. The system can also monitor and report real-time road conditions, such as slippery pavement or other weather-related hazards. The information can be transmitted to control centers so that they warn drivers of potential danger ahead.
“With the continued development of connected vehicles and infrastructure, this project creates an opportunity for us to be more technologically advanced and data-driven in how we maintain and invest in our roads and overall infrastructure,” Sam Krassenstein, Transportation and Infrastructure Advisor of the City of Detroit told For Construction Pros.
Tactile Mobility’s software solution lives in vehicles’ computers and on a cloud-based system. Once installed, it effectively turns the vehicles into data-gathering probes, capable of identifying road conditions like steep grades, curves, slipperiness, and even damage, for instance, potholes or even cracks. While on the road, the software creates an interactive map, providing a near real-time look at the entire road network.
For the pilot program, Tactile Mobility’s solution was added to 20 of the Detroit automaker’s vehicles owned by the City of Detroit Department of Public Works, For Construction Pros reported. The solution continuously scans and updates road conditions as the vehicles go about their work, offering an unbiased look at the state of the roads. The resulting digital map grades each section of pavement on a scale of 10, with each grade indicating a maintenance task of varying urgency.
“Feeling the dynamic between a vehicle and the road is key for optimizing driving safety, user experience, and efficiency, if either a person or a computer drives a vehicle,” Tactile Mobility writes on its website.
“Tactile Mobility provides smart and autonomous vehicles (AVs) with the missing tactile sensing and dynamics data, which makes vehicles smarter, roads better, and mobility-ecosystems enhanced.”
A Successful First Run
As for this major proof-of-concept test in Detroit, the company considers it to have been a rousing success.
“The high correlation between Tactile Mobility’s pavement rating and current standards exceeded the City of Detroit’s needs and satisfaction. Equipped with tactile technology, Detroit and other cities alike can detect areas of slipperiness such as ice, water, or additional weather-related elements in real-time and transmit the information to control centers that will alert drivers before reaching such suspected areas, Yagil Tzur, Vice President of Product at Tactile Mobility told For Construction Pros.
“This is the first step towards a full suite of solutions that will provide insights about maintenance and road safety.”
By using sensors and software to keep constant watch over road conditions, municipalities can save time and money on repairs while letting drivers stay better informed about dangerous driving conditions. This system can reduce congestion in cities, trim roadway repair budgets, and make driving safer for everyone on the road.