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Research Projects

STATUS: In Progress YEAR: 2021 TOPIC AREA: Vehicles and infrastructure CENTER: PSR

Rapid and Accurate Assessment of Road Damage by Integrating Data from Mobile Camera Systems (MCS) and Mobile LiDAR Systems (MLS): Can we get the best of both worlds?

Project Summary

Project number: PSR-21-72
Funding source: US DOT
Contract number: 69A3551747109
Funding amount: $28,183
Performance period: 7/1/2021 to 6/30/2022

Project description

The transportation infrastructure in Hawaii is vulnerable to natural hazards such as sea-level rise (SLR) and flash flooding. An urgent demand exists for rapidly monitoring roadway conditions and assessing post-hazard damage to repair and restore roads. Mobile LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system (MLS) and mobile camera system (MCS) are two emerging technologies for mapping roadways. However, each technology has advantages and drawbacks: MLS can collect accurate 3D point clouds, but the system is not cost-effective for monitoring road conditions; on the other hand, MCS costs much less and is easy to operate, but it lacks sufficient geolocation accuracy. Currently, Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) has been collecting MLS point clouds over all state roads once per year, but mainly for regular maintenance of roadways instead of for rapid response to natural hazards. The main goal of this project is to test the feasibility of combining the merits of MCS and MLS so that we can assess post-hazard road damage timely and accurately yet with a low operation budget. Our research involves several key components: 1) set up a low-cost MCS with panorama cameras to collect photos, 2) leverage the existing HDOT MLS point clouds to generate accurate georeferenced Digital Terrain Model (DTM) and orthomosaics from MCS data, and 3) develop innovative methods to map road damages (such as cracks and potholes) from the georeferenced MCS orthomosaics. Overall, this pilot study will develop a cost-effective solution to provide timely and accurate information about road damage and pave the way of incorporating state-of-the-art mobile mapping technologies for transportation-related hazard analysis.


Qi Chen
Office: Saunders 435
Department of Geography and EnvironmentHonolulu, HI 96822
United States
[email protected]