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Measurement of Pavement Roughness Using Android-Based Smartphone


Article  in  Transportation Research Record Journal of the Transportation Research Board · January 2015
DOI: 10.3141/2457-04

20 1,263

4 authors, including:

Shahidul Islam Roberto Aldunate

Applied Research Associates, Inc. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


William Vavrik
Applied Research Associates, Inc.


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Measurement of Pavement
Roughness Using Android-Based
Smartphone Application
Shahidul Islam, William G. Buttlar, Roberto G. Aldunate,
and William R. Vavrik

Pavement roughness is an expression of the irregularities in a pavement require pavement roughness information along with other distress
surface that adversely affect the ride quality of a vehicle. Roughness also data. Pavement roughness is the deviation of pavement surface profile
affects vehicle delay costs, fuel consumption, tires, and maintenance from planarity and affects overall ride quality. Pavement roughness
costs. Roughness is predominantly characterized by the international also slightly increases fuel consumption and therefore emission levels.
roughness index (IRI), which is often measured with inertial profilers. Fuel consumption can be increased as much as 4% to 5% by very
Inertial profilers are equipped with sensitive accelerometers, a height- rough pavements (2). Most transportation agencies use measures of
measuring laser, and a distance-measuring instrument for measuring the international roughness index (IRI) in planning maintenance and
vehicle vertical acceleration data and the pavement profile. Modern rehabilitation operations. Decades ago, roughness measurements were
smartphones are equipped with several sensors including a three-axis made with manual equipment, such as a sliding straightedge. Techno-
accelerometer, which was used in this project to collect vehicle acceleration logical advances have led to highly automated pavement condition
data with an Android-based application. In the study, acceleration data
assessments that use sophisticated data collection vehicles equipped
were double integrated numerically to obtain a pavement profile, which
with sensitive inertial profilers.
was input into the software program ProVAL. The pavement rough-
According to NCHRP Report 334, most transportation agencies
ness was then calculated. For the initial validation, pavement profile
now collect pavement roughness data with automated systems for
and acceleration data were collected with both an inertial profiler and
at least part of their roadway network. Although very little has been
the newly developed smartphone application from three test sites. The
reported in the literature on the cost of conducting IRI measurements,
initial validation results suggest that the newly developed smartphone
one study found reported pavement profile data collection and analysis
application can measure IRI with good correspondence to the inertial
involve agency costs in the range of $2.23 to $10.00 per mile with an
profiler and with good repeatability between measurement replications.
However, calibration is needed for rougher pavement sections because
average cost of $6.12 per mile (3). The 139,577 miles of roadways of
the current analysis techniques do not directly account for acceleration
the state of Illinois would involve an expenditure of approximately
damping resulting from vehicle suspension systems. With improvements $1.4 million per pavement network system assessment. This is con-
in analysis that consider the vehicle suspension effects and additional sistent with a report by the Mid-Atlantic Universities Transportation
validation, the approach could be used to reduce the cost of acquiring Center, which found that for the Virginia Department of Transporta-
pavement roughness data for agencies and to reduce user costs for the tion “a contractor is employed to gather roughness data at an annual
traveling public by providing more robust feedback about route choice cost of $1.8 million” (4), and data are collected once every 5 years for
and its effect on estimated vehicle maintenance cost and fuel efficiency. secondary roads. Many transportation agencies do not collect pave-
ment condition data on an annual basis for large portions of their road
network because of these high costs. Thus, maintenance and rehabili-
There are about 2.6 million mi of paved public roads in the U.S. tation decisions are often performed with outdated roughness data. In
roadway network, and many transportation agencies use a pavement addition, infrequent roughness measurements preclude identification
management system to manage their pavement networks in an effi- of rapidly developing distress features on pavements, such as potholes
cient and cost-effective manner (1). Pavement management systems that occur during spring thaw and dangerous blowups in portland
cement concrete pavements, representing a missed opportunity for
S. Islam, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois
enhancing roadway safety and so increasing tort liability.
at Urbana–Champaign, 1611 Titan Drive, Rantoul, IL 61866. W. G. Buttlar, Depart- Modern smartphones have built-in three-axis accelerometers
ment of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, University of and GPS, which were investigated in this study as an efficient
Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, 1212 Newmark Lab, MC-250, 205 North Mathews means for collecting and mapping vehicle vertical acceleration
Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801. R. G. Aldunate and W. R. Vavrik, Applied Research
data and estimated pavement roughness (IRI). If successful, this
Associates, Inc., Suite 200, 100 Trade Centre Drive, Champaign, IL 61820. Alter-
nate address for R. G. Aldunate: College of Applied Health Sciences, University of crowdsourcing system could save agencies millions of dollars while
Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801. Corresponding author: S. Islam, also providing the traveling public with useful feedback on route choice and its effect on user costs, sustainability, and perhaps safety
(through real-time tracking of high-acceleration events caused by
Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board,
No. 2457, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington,
severe potholes, blowups, etc.).
D.C., 2014, pp. 30–38. The objectives of this study are as follows: (a) demonstrate a new
DOI: 10.3141/2457-04 cell phone application, Roughness Capture, for collecting vehicle


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