Researchers have developed a “smart compaction” technology that can assess the quality of roadbed compaction in real time and is integrated into a road roller. Roads can be made safer and more durable through improved road construction, which can also reduce maintenance costs and the number of potholes. Months of continuous rain and flooding have highlighted the importance of good road construction as it prevents potholes and road subsidence. It causes blowouts and structural damage to cars and trucks, and also increases the likelihood of fatal accidents.
Developed by a research team from the University of Technology Sydney, the cutting-edge machine learning method uses data from a sensor mounted on a construction roller. Together with Professor Hadi Kahbbaz, Dr. Di Wu and Ph.D. Student Zhengheng Xu, Associate Professor Behzad Fatahi, Chief of Geotechnical Engineering and Transportation Engineering supervised the project. “We developed an advanced computer model, incorporating machine learning and big data from construction sites, to predict the stiffness of compacted soil with high accuracy in a fraction of a second, allowing roller operators to make adjustments,” Associate Professor Fatahi said.
Roads are made up of three or more layers that are rolled and compacted. The sub-grade is usually earth, followed by natural materials such as crushed stone and then asphalt or concrete. The varying soil and moisture conditions can result in under- or over-compacted material. “As with Goldilocks, the compression has to be ‘just right’ to ensure the right structural integrity and strength. Too much compaction can degrade the material and change its composition, and too little compaction can lead to uneven settlement,” Associate Professor Fatahi said.
“A well-compacted multi-layer road bed provides a stable foundation and increases the road’s carrying capacity for heavy loads. Trucks can weigh up to 40 tons, so a poor-quality substructure can quickly lead to cracks and weak spots in the asphalt.” According to research just published in the journal Engineering Structures, using this technology could help build stronger roads that withstand extreme weather.
The team is currently attempting to field test the new technology for various soil and roller conditions for road, railway and dam construction projects. They are also looking at methods to measure the density and moisture content of the compacted soil in real time as construction takes place. (ANI)
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