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Scientists come up with new technology to reduce potholes

Sydney [Australia] November 6: Researchers have created an "intelligent compaction" technology that can evaluate the quality of road base compaction in real-time and is integrated into a road roller. Roads can become safer and more durable with improved road construction, which can also lower maintenance costs and pothole counts.

Months of persistent rain and flooding have brought home how crucial good road building is since it prevents potholes and road sinking. Tyre blowouts and structural damage to automobiles and trucks are both brought on by this, and the likelihood of fatal accidents also rises.

The cutting-edge machine learning method was created by a research team from the University of Technology Sydney and uses data from a sensor mounted to a construction roller. Together with Professor Hadi Kahbbaz, Dr. Di Wu, and Ph.D. student Zhengheng Xu, Associate Professor Behzad Fatahi, head of geotechnical and transport engineering, oversaw the project.

"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 roller operators can make adjustments," communiqué by Associate Professor Fatahi.

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

"Like Goldilocks, the compaction needs to be 'just right' 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-layer road base provides a stable foundation and increases the capacity of a road to bear heavy loads. Trucks can weigh up to 40 tonnes, so a poor quality base can quickly lead to cracks and weak spots in the asphalt surface."

According to research that was just published in the peer-reviewed journal Engineering Structures, the use of this technology could aid in the construction of more resilient roadways that can endure extreme weather.

The team is currently looking to test the new technology on-site for different ground and roller conditions for road, railway, and dam construction projects. They are also looking into methods to measure the density and moisture content of the compacted soil in real time while construction is taking place.


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