New technology to reduce potholes

Researchers have developed a new ‘intelligent compaction’ technology, which is integrated into a steamroller and can assess the quality of road base compaction in real time. Improving road construction can reduce potholes and maintenance costs, and lead to safer and more resilient roads.

Months of heavy rain and flooding have highlighted the importance of road quality, with poor construction leading to potholes and road washouts. This not only causes tire blowouts and structural damage to cars and trucks, but also increases the risk of serious accidents.

The innovative machine learning technique, which processes data from a sensor attached to the construction roller, was developed by a research team at the University of Technology Sydney. The study was led by Associate Professor Behzad Fatahi, Head of Geotechnical and Transportation Engineering, in collaboration with Professor Hadi Kahbbaz, Dr Di Wu and 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 a second, so that roller operators can make adjustments ”, said Associate Professor Fatahi. .

Roads are made up of three or more layers, which are rolled and compacted. The base layer is usually soil, followed by natural materials such as crushed rock, then asphalt or concrete on top. The variable nature of soil conditions and moisture can result in under- or over-compacted materials.

“Like Goldilocks, the compaction must be ‘perfect’ to provide the correct structural integrity and strength. Over-compaction can break down the material and change its composition, and under-compaction can lead to uneven settlement,” said Associate Professor Fatahi. .

“A well-compacted multi-ply base course provides a stable foundation and increases a road’s ability to support heavy loads. Trucks can weigh up to 40 tonnes, so a poor quality base course can quickly lead to cracks and weak spots in the asphalt surface.”

The research, recently published in a peer-reviewed journal Masterpieces, suggests that applying this technology could help build more durable roads that can better withstand extreme weather conditions.

The team is now looking to test the new technology on-site for various soil and roll conditions for road, rail and dam construction projects, and to explore techniques for measuring the density and moisture content of soil. real-time compacted soil during construction.

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Material provided by Sydney University of Technology. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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