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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-20-037    Date:  August 2020
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-20-037
Date: August 2020


Leveraging Augmented Reality for Highway Construction

PDF Version (585 KB)

FHWA Publication No. FHWA-HRT-20-037
FHWA Contact: Hoda Azari, HRDI-20, (202) 493–3064, hoda.azari@dot.gov
Researchers: Kevin Gilson; Jagannath Mallela, Ph.D.; Paul Goodrum, Ph.D.

This document is a technical summary of the Federal Highway Administration report, Leveraging Augmented Reality for Highway Construction (FHWA-HRT-20-038).


Challenges in highway construction management and field operations include the lack of integrated information that can be obtained in real time, gaps between planned solutions and practical implementations, a lack of established quality assurance (QA) practices, and ineffective project communications.

As design and construction workflows based on three-dimensional (3D) models become more common on highway projects, the Federal Highway Administration is promoting these and other innovations through its Every Day Counts initiative and Building Information Modeling (BIM) efforts. This increased use of 3D model-based design and construction workflows as well as the rapid advancement in computer interface design and hardware make augmented reality (AR) a tool for overcoming such challenges.

AR is an immersive technology that combines visual computer-generated information with the real environment in real time. It enhances user perception of reality and enriches information content, helping project managers and engineers deliver projects faster, safer, and with greater accuracy and efficiency because managers can catch errors before construction and potentially improve design and construction details. They may also be able to use the tools for training, construction inspection, and stakeholder outreach.

AR enhances a scene while a user maintains a sense of presence in the real world. AR can augment traditional two-dimensional drawings with digital 3D images to help improve construction inspection and review, QA, worker safety, training, and project management. A close companion to AR is virtual reality (VR). VR typically consists of a fully immersive environment in which a person's senses are under the control of a display system, usually through a headset. Although VR applications are still being developed, their use in the review of design alternatives and stakeholder communication shows strong potential, especially in collaborative environments.

FHWA-HRT-20-037 PDF Image Cover


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