Kent County Council and Amey are trialling a system that combines cameras and sensors on buses and council vehicles to spot potholes and other carriageway defects.
The project, which is part of the £23m Government-funded ADEPT Smart Places Live Labs programme, has seen devices fitted to a range of council vans and Arriva buses, which travel across the county collecting imagery and detailed data on the condition of the network.
Also involved in the trial is Route Reports, a firm that provides live and predictive analytics for the road and rail industries.
The council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, Michael Payne, said: ‘The data collected by the cameras will be combined to produce a real-time view of Kent’s road network condition and allow us to make accurate predictions on where severe defects may appear up to three months in advance so that they can be fixed before causing issues.
‘The device uses either a dashcam or existing bus CCTV cameras to collect imagery such as potholes, cracking, and other road defects on the highway and footway.
‘It also collects information on a range of KCC assets, including signage, line markings and street furniture to ensure that the Kent Highways team is kept updated as to the current and future status of the road network.’
The sensors, which detect vibration, have been fitted to both buses and council vans for comparison purposes.
Sunita Dulai, head of business improvement for transport infrastructure at Amey, said: ‘The data these sensors and cameras will collect will be invaluable to the teams who will then be able to carry out immediate repairs and plan for future maintenance repair works.’
The trial also aims to integrate with Kent’s existing road management system to speed up the time from detection to repair.
Amey said highways officers will be able to quickly and remotely estimate length, width and depth of each defect as vehicles travel along the road.
Route Reports CEO Connell McLaughlin said: 'Our solution uses a first-of-a-kind combination of sensors and computer vision that hasn’t previously been attainable at our level of accuracy in a cost-effective device.
‘We’re also trialling unique stereo cameras that develop a 3D perspective of the network as the vehicle is in motion, allowing for even better accuracy. These groundbreaking new features will enhance KCC’s understanding of the road network in Kent, and will also accelerate the further rollout of our technology across the UK.’
Kent CC is responsible for the inspection and maintenance of 5,000 miles of road and 4,000 miles of footpaths.