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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-14-059    Date:  August 2014
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-14-059
Date: August 2014


The Exploratory Advanced Research Program

Use of Vehicle Noise for Roadways, Bridge, and Infrastructure Health Monitoring Workshop Summary Report August 20-21, 2013

Panel Discussion

Topic: Asset Management Current Practices, Key Issues, and Near-Term Advances


Shane Boone, Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
Dr. John Popovics, University of Illinois
Jack Stickel, Alaska Department of Transportation


Panel members began by discussing goals for using vehicle noise as a measure of infrastructure health. The following considerations were agreed upon:

The panel then discussed the needs for the facilitation of these goals as outlined in the following sections.


The panelists highlighted that interaction between research and practice can result more quickly in infrastructure managers who can manage maintenance with minimal interruption.

Data Management

To process the large quantities of data collected by these systems, the panelists suggested first identifying how to sort through the data so that the information will be most useful. They also noted that the main purpose of collecting the data is to predict when materials need to be replaced.

Technology Needs

Current Technology
The panel members initially highlighted the  the Robot-Assisted Bridge Inspection Tool™ (RABIT™), an FHWA LTBP robot that integrates real-time acoustic, optical, radar, and other sensors to gather information about the condition of bridges while it travels along them. This tool provides near real-time information about the condition of a concrete bridge deck, and the precise location and nature of the damage.2 This was noted by the panelists as a step in the right direction.

Panel members then discussed current features on vehicles with the potential to be used for these goals. For example, active suspension is one feature that could indicate the density of the materials by evaluating the damping properties of the material.

Other sensors that could be used in conjunction with acoustic sensors include optical sensors to visually confirm anomalies identified in data, depending on the quality and price point of cameras. During discussion, the panel members noted that infrared (IR) cameras can remove shadow from the images. According to the panelists, Illinois Department of Transportation uses a van with optical cameras to document pavement status. The panelists also highlighted that the use of ground penetrating radar (GPR) frequencies required for appropriate data collection may not be available for private or commercial fleet vehicles because of interference with other entities.

In summary, panelists discussed tracking the location of vehicles. They highlighted that, although commercial or maintenance vehicles could use differential Global Positioning Systems (GPS) so that their position in lanes are known, passenger vehicles would be more likely to use GPS found on mobile phones. This is because the cost of differential GPS to determine position, which cannot currently meet the required level of accuracy.

New Technologies
According to the panelists, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is exploring several new technologies, as follows:

Asset Management

Known Efforts
Each State is required to develop a risk-based asset management plan for the National Highway System (NHS) to improve or preserve the condition of the assets and performance of the system (23 U.S.C. 119(e)(1), MAP-21 § 1106). The asset management plan for the NHS includes data collection, maintenance, preservation, and integration. Additional subtasks include developing a base map of all public roads with a linear referencing system that will be integrated with the Transportation for the Nation dataset.

Recommended Resources
Panelists recommended the following additional resources:

Gaps and Research Areas
Panelists suggested that integrating and linking all different asset classes and transportation information—by creating an enterprise road network with a linear referencing system—would be one approach to further research. One area noted for improvement is developing a governance framework within agencies. Other critical issues that require attention include data silos, integration, and establishing common definitions. Panelists suggested that a useful strategy would be to “collect once, use many times.”

Current Research
Transportation Research Board research topics regarding asset management include the following:

2 For more information, visit https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/research/tfhrc/programs/infrastructure/structures/ltbp/ltbpresearch/rabit/index.cfm