Traffic With a mobile phone camera and artificial intelligence, the city of Ebersbach will detect road damage in the future.
Ebersbach. Cracks, potholes and other road damage could soon be a thing of the past in Ebersbach. As the city administration informs, in the future the artificial intelligence of the company Vialytics evaluates the road conditions and provides the building authority twice a year with an up-to-date and objective data base. In this way, road maintenance management will be “made many times more efficient, more sustainable and, above all, more cost-effective,” according to the town hall. The necessary app and the algorithms necessary for the evaluation of the data were developed by the company. Road condition recording via app and artificial intelligence is one of the projects under the country’s “InKoMo 4.0″ funding program. The city of Hockenheim, as the leading municipality of the funding project “Effective road maintenance in practice – network of the Southwest”, wants to set up an automated system for recording road damage together with 18 other municipalities.
The collection of the data takes place almost casually during the daily trips of the Bauhof staff. A smartphone modified by Vialytics, attached to the city’s vehicle’s windshield, takes a picture of the road surface every four metres, detailing the actual condition of the roads. As soon as the smartphone is connected to the W-Lan, the collected data is loaded into the company’s own cloud. Here, the data for road damage would be automatically “examined” with the help of algorithms and neural networks. Artificial intelligence recognizes the various damages independently and evaluates and categorizes them into damage classes. The algorithm detects nine different damage classes, such as mesh cracks, open working seams, Patch or outbursts. The results will be obtained by the municipalities within one month, including the imagery and GPS data. In an intuitively designed and web-based geoinformation system, the municipalities can not only map the road condition, but also actively participate in the further planning of the renovation by means of filter inge and analysis options. “Until now, the building authorities often had to make such decisions on the basis of data up to five years old,” says Gerd Richter, head of the Ebersbach department of civil engineering and infrastructure. The fact that the Stuttgart-based start-up evaluates the images of two traffic runs per year could lead to remediation measures based on the current road condition in the future. “This not only saves time in planning the road maintenance programme for the coming years, but also helps us to make an optimal decision about when which roads need to be rehabilitated,” Richter said. The advantages are obvious for city architect Markus Ludwig: “We now have a more objective overview of our road network and avoid individual differences in evaluation. We can see which roads should be rehabilitated more quickly and which ones can wait a little longer. An important basis for our decision-making when it comes to how best to use financial resources for road maintenance.” In addition to Ebersbach and Schorndorf, the Stuttgart-based company already works with more than 70 municipalities throughout Germany. Since the already comparatively cost-friendly project was now also financially subsidised by the state of Baden-Württemberg, the decision to cooperate was made easily, the city administration emphasizes. The first important results are expected soon.