Florida municipalities to use road sweepers to collect pavement assessment data


Towns and cities across Florida now have the opportunity to collect pothole and pavement condition data during normal road sweeping operations due to a partnership between RoadBotics Inc. and the Elgin Sweeper Company.

One of the leading manufacturers of street sweepers in North America, Elgin has partnered with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) spinoff company RoadBotics to offer Florida’s 400-plus municipalities the ability to collect road condition data during regular cleaning operations, exclusively using the company’s street sweepers. At a time when they are facing mounting pressure from citizens to address potholes and other poor road conditions, the partnership aims to help local government officials managing road maintenance budgets to make data-driven road improvement decisions.

Founded in 2016 by Courtney Ehrlichman, Mark DeSantis, Dr Benjamin Schmidt, and Dr Christoph Mertz, from the Robotics Institute at CMU, RoadBotics has been developing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to revolutionize how governments and engineering firms make data-driven pavement management decisions. The company’s pavement assessment technology works by mounting a smartphone to the windshield of a vehicle, in this case, a street sweeper. The smartphone collects images of the road surface using the company’s proprietary RoadSense app as the vehicle travels the roads. The data is then analyzed using cutting-edge machine-learning technology, which identifies road surface damage such as potholes and cracks, and results in a detailed, meter-by-meter pavement assessment of the entire road network. Public works officials then use this data to prioritize pavement maintenance in their community.

“Our customers in Florida deploy our products year-round to keep their streets clean of debris and sand. These sweepers traverse every road of each municipality on a regular basis. By applying RoadBotics’ technology, we turn each sweeper into a mobile data collection platform that generates a detailed pavement assessment for our customers’ entire road networks,” explained Mike Higgins, Elgin’s vice president and general manager. “Street sweepers have always been essential tools for improving water and air quality, and with the RoadBotics partnership, our sweepers will now also help Florida communities improve the streets themselves. We will be leveraging the knowledge and expertise of Environmental Products Group, our local dealer, to execute this initiative. Roll-out to the broader USA is expected to follow initial deployment in Florida.”

Mark DeSantis, RoadBotics’ CEO, said, “The partnership with Elgin is a major step forward in public infrastructure management. More than 100 local governments across the USA have switched to our AI technology to assess their road networks because they want the reliable and objective condition data our AI platform generates. Typically, a municipality needs to wait for our team of technicians to arrive in their community to complete data collection. Now, a municipality can become a subscriber of our technology and conduct a pavement assessment immediately using Elgin’s fleet of street sweepers. Their products will keep streets clean while simultaneously providing city officials with critical data about the conditions of their roads and infrastructure. It’s a win-win.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.