THE PROBLEM

California road damage

Critical infrastructure such as roads, railways, airports, pipelines, and flood control dikes are built on earthen sub-base. Destructive forces such as earthquakes, erosion, drought, flood and so on can weaken and create gaps in the underlying earth. Below-surface damage cannot be seen or detected, until it causes a collapse. Consequences of such failures can be severe, not only injury or death but also blockage of emergency services, disruption of supply lines for industry and agriculture, and high costs for repair.

No currently available technology can detect these hidden defects reliably and economically, over an entire road or rail network.

A Recognized Need

There is a clear need for a method and apparatus that can quickly determine the integrity of the earth which supports a road or other infrastructure.

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the (U.S.) National Academies, in their Research Needs Statement Automated Sensing for Construction Quality Monitoring of Concrete Pavements, and Smart Long-Term Tagging System, 2013, said such a capability “ ... could transform the economics of highway construction inspection and ultimately improve the safety and quality of road systems ... both industry and government will benefit from such systems by reducing reliance on slow and sometimes poorly managed testing programs.”

This report outlines a need which is as-yet unfulfilled, according to a personal communication from TRB.

Examples

Failures of the earthen sub-base are common worldwide. We have compiled a set of example videos that vividly demonstrate the problem.