Robots painting pavement messages
University of Minnesota-Duluth Associate Professor Ryan Rosandich tests a prototype of a robotic arm he developed to paint messages and markings on roadways. He calls the machine “The MnDOT Robot.” During a test run in October, the machine painted a right-turn arrow and the word “ahead” on pavement at MnDOT’s Pike Lake station in Duluth. Rosandich hopes commercial companies will show an interest in further developing his proof-of-concept technology into something that road authorities can use regularly to make work easier, faster and safer for their employees. (see demonstration video) (Posted 11/4/2015)
This past summer, MnDOT began researching how to employ drones to someday help inspect the state’s many bridges. Researchers investigated whether drones could help MnDOT decrease the rising costs of bridge inspections and collect more detailed information. Drones could also minimize the risks for bridge inspectors, who currently use rope systems and special inspection vehicles to access hard-to-reach areas. Using a drone to gather images could keep inspectors out of harm’s way and inspection vehicles out of active traffic lanes. (read more) (Posted 9/28/2015)
Roadways for humans can sometimes create roadblocks for fish, but researchers hope to establish a set of culvert design practices to help aquatic creatures get where they’re going. Laboratory simulations suggest that filling a culvert with sediment at installation, rather than allowing it to fill over time is, with some exceptions, generally the best approach for low- and moderate-grade streams.
The Federal Highway Administration recently released a video and a 44-page publication that document the role research and technology play in meeting the demands of the nation’s highway system and contributing to improvements in safety, infrastructure and operations.
Video: The FHWA 2015 R&T Story (5:41, YouTube)
Publication: The FHWA 2015 R&T Story (44 pages, PDF)
Researchers are experimenting with mobile light detection and ranging (LiDAR) using a sedan rigged with senors. They are collecting data that they hope leads to the creation of applications that can be useful to county highway departments and municipal public works departments. (read more) (Posted 8/5/2015)
At a few test sites around the state, researchers have used a grout mixture to cement smaller, rounded rocks together at bridge abutments. Once applied to the rocks, the mixture forms what is called “matrix riprap," which is significantly stronger than conventional riprap. (read more) (Posted 7/14/2015)