The Hidden Cost of Manual Road Inspection

Nikhil Ranga

Nikhil Ranga

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In every engineering discipline, obtaining good data is a prerequisite first step in making well-informed decisions. Road engineering is no different, and it begins first and foremost with inspection and monitoring. The large extent of road infrastructure and the human safety imperative that roadways require, make it imperative that we strive for exceptional and frequent road inspections.

Road inspections have historically involved navigating the road network and recording–manually– the road condition using a variety of off-the-shelf rating schemes. The benefits of such a system are enormous–as stated above inspection is the first step in developing a management plan for the road network.

The drawbacks, however, are numerous and not always clear. For instance, the amount of time and effort in navigating all the roadways, stopping for assessments, and recording the assessment is non-trivial. Typically, communities will adopt some or all of the various methods to reduce these drawbacks.

The first, most obvious, and most common is to simply do this inspection less frequently. The second choice is to alternate roads covered each year to further reduce the overall burden.

But this does not quite capture the potential costs of this type of solution. The time involved in generating, improving, iterating and designing the overall scoring methodology is taxing. Training different inspectors is also time consuming. And the relative subjectivity and repetitive nature of the task can even lead to reliability issues in some rare instances. The data management side is also pertinent when addressing cost. Once the roads are inspected, the information is useless unless put into a database or some other pavement management system. This can be anything from merely a chore to outright drudgery. And again, opens the process to human errors. Worst of all, these inspection schemes lead to a reduction in any given section of road being monitored frequently. This is perhaps the greatest cost. To make inspection even somewhat manageable, the result is conduct these inspections infrequently.

RoadBotics offers a revolutionary alternative.

Using machine learning and advanced pattern recognition, the RoadBotics technology allows for dashboard images collected while driving to be transformed into quantitative and repeatable road assessments. RoadBotics customers are at the forefront of a completely new way of actively managing their road assets by utilizing frequent and affordable road inspections to always have the maximum amount of information to make the most informed decisions.

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