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Mechanical Manufacturing
Pavement Profile Scanner Detects Road Repair Areas
A shoe box-sized mobile laser scanner has been developed that can survey road surfaces and pinpoint the areas that need repairing.


Developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques' researchers, the system is car-mounted and, over the past ten or so months, it's been used to examine 15,000 kilometres of road.

These trials served to confirm that the Pavement Profile Scanner outperforms currently-used road survey equipment on several fronts, including cost, speed and accuracy. It's also much easier to set up on its host platform and it's effective at road speeds of up to 62 miles per hour.

Road Repair Detection Scanner

Here's how this road repair detection scanner works. Central to its design is an octagon-shaped mirror house. This scatters the laser beam across a 70 degree angle, meaning the system can be used on roads up to four metres wide. The system records the length of time elapsed between the laser beam bouncing off the road surface and being retrieved by the scanner.

Consequently, all-point distance calculations can be made, with a level of accuracy of somewhere between 0.15 millimetres and 0.3 millimetres.

Fraunhofer's goal with the Pavement Profile Scanner is to give authorities a means of detecting surface road damage well ahead of cracks developing beneath the surface and, so, reduce their repair bills. Especially in Germany - where roads total more than 60 per cent of much of its cities' urban infrastructures - this road surface monitoring technology could really come into its own.

Pavement Profile Scanner

"The Federal Highway Research Institute laid down strict criteria before licensing the scanner on public roads: it not only had to be accurate to 0.3 millimetres, it also had to be safe for the eyes", explained Doctor Dirk Ebersbach, the Chief Executive Officer of LEHMANN + PARTNER, whose road surveyors took part in the Pavement Profile Scanner trials.

"This means that even if someone ended up looking into the laser for longer than necessary, it would not put their eyes at risk. The development partners' technology easily cleared both hurdles".

He continued: "The average service life of a road is around 30 years, and the asphalt surfacing rarely lasts more than twelve. Unevenness and damage such as ruts must be identified at an early stage in order to prevent damage to the layers beneath by means of timely repair work."

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