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Versatile Onboard Traffic Embedded Roaming Sensors (VOTERS)

VOTERS is developing new multi-sensor technology systems for cars and trucks that will allow for real-time assessment of road and bridge infrastructure across the country.

VOTERS is funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology Technology Inovation Program.

VOTERS is a multi-institution center including Northeastern University (lead), University of Massachusetts Lowell, the University of Vermont, Trilion Quality Systems, Inc., and Earth Science Systems.

The VOTERS project created a simple, inexpensive way to detect surface and subsurface roadway defects, enabling continuous network-wide health monitoring of roadways without setting up hazardous and expensive work zones, and providing accurate up-to-date pavement condition information to decision-makers.  The VOTERS project succeeded in providing not only the framework, but also creating a working prototype and developing a blueprint for a service to shift from periodical localized inspections to continuous network-wide health monitoring of roadways.  VOTERS created a simple, inexpensive way to detect surface and subsurface trouble spots without stopping traffic.  This innovative multi-modal multi-sensor approach centers upon infrastructure inspection and cyber monitoring through the use of city or fleet vehicles already on city roads and interstate highways, such as post office or sanitation trucks, police or other city vehicles, taxis, or delivery trucks.  Traveling in traffic, multiple sensor subsystems will obtain measurements and data using a variety of innovative sensing methods: acoustic waves generated by tires and high frequency impulse radar to detect surface defects, subsurface delamination, corrosion, layer thickness and properties, millimeter-wave radar to determine near-surface properties of pavement, complemented by optical systems.  Through data fusion VOTERS can provide accurate, up-to-date condition information without setting up hazardous and expensive work zones.  VOTERS data-driven approach to assessing the pavement conditions allows decision makers to conduct the right repairs at the right time and right place.

The VOTERS project overcame the challenges associated with developing affordable pavement inspection sensing technology of different modalities that could be deployed widespread, software that manages all sensor systems automatically and controls the data flow from acquisition to the file server, where the data are processed, fused, and placed into a data base before being visualized in a web-based GIS application.  The frequent repeat measurements possible with the VOTERS system allow for monitoring of the roadway degradation process.  Having up-to-date network-wide pavement condition information available allows city officials to more efficiently prioritize and assign maintenance activities –potentially saving millions of dollars each year.  The VOTERS’ technology has the potential to drastically alter the way roadway inspections are performed in the future.  The technology is considered ready for transfer to the private sector for commercialization.