A pioneering project that has used bin lorries to spot potential potholes is to be extended to new areas and will now include buses and bikes.
The trial, which the Department for Transport (DfT) is funding, is being rolled out in Wiltshire, as well as York and Thurrock, with an ‘expanding portfolio of vehicles and approaches to data capture’.
One of the pothole spotter fleet
The data should enable the councils tackle road problems more effectively, predict how and where potholes will form, prevent emergency repairs and compensation payouts and improve safety for all road users.
The new phase of Pothole-spotter project will see the trial team working with two local companies – Reliance Motor Services and the York Electric Bike Company – to have a bus and bike equipped with high-definition cameras deployed in York this summer.
They will identify cracks and defects that could develop into potholes if not repaired.
The two companies behind the project – Soenecs and Gaist – said the addition of buses and bikes will enable it to build-up a ‘rich and varied’ data set.
Dr David Greenfield of Soenecs said: ‘The new vehicles and routes will enable us to gather significantly more data to assist in preventing potholes, while exploring road safety issues for more vulnerable road users, such as cyclists.’
The project is also set to go live in Wiltshire, with four ‘pothole-spotter’ refuse collection vehicles (RCVs) deployed in the county over the coming months. One will be equipped with a special thermal image camera to study the impact of hot and cold weather on road surfaces.
The Pothole-spotter project first launched in February in Thurrock when an RCV fitted with a high-definition camera was deployed to identify future potholes. Data from that trial is already being used to help inform the council’s road maintenance and repair strategy.
The data collected by all the vehicles will be reviewed by Gaist using the latest analytical techniques and intelligent software. The findings will then be shared with authorities and highways stakeholders across the country.
A report on the early findings from the Pothole-spotter project will be published in the Autumn.
An animation explaining how Pothole-spotter works can be viewed at www.pothole-spotter.co.uk