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State-of-the-art new technology to make New Zealand’s roads safer

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• New technology to give NZTA greater information on the health of the country’s roads • Mapping the total road network in New Zealand for the first time12,000 lane kilometres of data to be collected in the initial year – the equivalent of travelling from Wellington to Los Angeles

New Zealand’s roads are being put under the microscope with new technology hitting the bitumen, providing comprehensive information that will help keep the country’s road network in safe condition.

NZ Transport Agency group manager highways and network operations Tommy Parker says the Agency has commissioned the use of state of the art technology to survey the strength and integrity of the country’s road network. The Agency will be implementing new technology, in the form of a truck that will survey thousands of kilometres of New Zealand’s roads, providing intelligence to assist in making roads safer and last much longer. The technology has been developed by the ARRB group (formerly, the Australian Road Research Board). The device has already provided invaluable information to two Australian road agencies during the past 10 months.

Mr Parker says, “Road safety is a huge priority when allocating infrastructure funding, and the condition of the roads themselves is a critical responsibility. The information gathered by the TSD will help The Transport Agency prioritise funding decisions based on need, ensuring our roads are well-maintained to optimise the safety of road users.

“Employing cutting edge technology to assess how safe our roads are from the inside out plays a key role in a preventative road maintenance program which means less roads under major repair less frequently – a win-win situation for everyone.

“Allocating road maintenance investment on the basis of need will allow us to fix the greatest infrastructure issues impacting negatively on road safety. This new technology will provide us with the data to do so effectively.” Mr Parker says that the vehicle will be well marked to ensure road users understand that it is undertaking surveying work. Road users are asked to be patient if encountering the vehicle, and if they need to pass it, to wait for a safe spot as the vehicle will usually not be able to pull over.

Garry Warren, General Manager ARRB Systems said: “Usually we can see when roads are under stress because we start seeing the damage on the surface. This new technology allows us to see what’s happening underneath the road surface and dynamically map the structural integrity of the road. In addition we have added sensors to simultaneously measure the surface condition, allowing us to pinpoint the sections of road that need immediate attention.”

“The TSD is a truly innovative piece of technology that is starting to change the way that road agencies approach maintenance funding. This is a fantastic example of using scientific data obtained from ground-breaking technology to make the absolute best use of road maintenance funding, enabling governments to prioritise the roads that have the greatest need for attention.”

The NZ Transport Agency uses two types of high-tech trucks to survey its network – the TSD, which focuses on pavement strength, and the SCRIM truck which focuses on the skid resistance of the pavement. The Transport Agency uses information from both these machines to guide its investment in road upkeep, with a particular focus on safety.

About the TSD

The Traffic Speed Deflectometer (TSD), originally developed by Danish company Greenwood Engineering, has been enhanced by the ARRB team through the addition of its Hawkeye data collection platform which provides automatic crack detection, geospatial assessment, imaging and laser profiling. The TSD can now monitor road surfaces, structural integrity and record cracks simultaneously – making it the only one of its kind in the world.

Resembling a regular semi-trailer on the outside, the TSD is made up of a bank of computer servers and a complex network of Doppler lasers that measure the amount of reverberations of the of the pavement while it is being driven to determine its structural strength; while an array of high-speed laser systems also detect cracks and the profile of the road.

The Transport Agency will use this technology to monitor New Zealand’s roads until the end of 2018.

Other facts:

  • The TSD will collect around 700GB of data per day, and 151TB of data over the course of a year
  • The TSD’s five high-speed cameras collect 27 million image frames per year

ARRB is a leading expert globally in road research and technology. For the last 54 years we’ve been helping transport, road and infrastructure bodies to identify and adopt best practices for developing and maintaining safe and sustainable roads.

For more information from the Transport Agency, contact Anthony Frith, anthony.frith@nzta.govt.nz or 04 894 5251

For more information, images or to speak with an ARRB spokesperson, please contact Sarah Robertson at Keep Left: sarahr@keepleft.com.au | 03 9268 7800 | 0419 410 901

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