A company called Integrated Roadways plans to add “smart pavement” to an intersection it is working on in Denver, Colorado. The road will be in an industrial section of the city and runs between a Pepsi Co. bottling plant and two parking lots nearby. Integrated Roadways says that the pavement is embedded with electronics.
Those electronics inside the road can deduce speed, weight, and direction of a vehicle from the sensors inside the pavement. This out of the way section of road will be the first real-world test for the technology. According to Integrated Roadways, the sensor gathered data allows it to alert authorities to accidents or reconfigure lanes to relieve congestion.
If this initial test goes well, the company will replace 500 meters of pavement along a dangerously curvy section of Highway 285 south of Denver in early 2019. The smart pavement in that application will alert authorities if a driver has an accident, something very common on the curvy Colorado roads. Colorado transportation department officials note that particularly dangerous section of highway can’t be easily widened and is too narrow for guardrails.
Integrated roadways has been given $2.75 million for both projects it is working on. The pavement itself is manufactured as a slab of concrete rather than being poured on-site. Each of the slabs has a three-axis accelerometer able to measure vibrations and predict the path of the vehicle.
A sensing fiber optic cable detects strain in the pavement by measuring changes in the way light travels through the cable. A magnetometer can gauge the width of a car axle to determine what type of car is driving overhead. That data is sent to a pair of central processing units to determine position, speed, size, and trajectory of a vehicle in real time.