A black-and-white camouflaged vehicle moves slowly along the G312 expressway in the section of eastern China’s Changzhou city, with an elevated arm mounted on the front and a bulldozer-like blade fixed to its rear.
Make no mistake. This is not another weird-looking prototype some automakers are running road tests on. It is a mobile robot that Changzhou is applying to examine its road conditions and check for deficiencies like cracks and sinkholes.
According to an official with Changzhou Road Center, which oversees the upkeep of toll roads, like G312, a number of autonomous robotic vehicles have been deployed to assess their conditions in a bid to ensure road safety.
These vehicles come with visual systems and 3D radars which are capable of gathering data about the surface and interior of highways.
The robot also has built-in GPS modules that allow it to position itself with precision as it moves forward.
By leveraging AI and bid data technologies, it will gain a clear and accurate picture of the roads’ “health” and whether they require maintenance.
Compared to traditional methods including manual checks and sampling road texture with a boring machine, the robotic “doctors” has multiple advantages.
It can achieve precise positioning down to centimeter. Autonomous collection of information and data analytics also enable the device to uncover the correlation between the conditions and internal engineering structure of a road.
Changzhou authorities told media that from 2020 onward, the city has taken the lead within Jiangsu province to introduce radar-equipped inspection robots during the implementation of road maintenance, repair and rehabilitation projects.
The purpose is to increase efficiency and bolster the effects while carrying out such work.
Going forward, the city will expand the drive to screen road conditions using robots and other advanced technologies.