Pothole spotter wins Highways Awards tech prize | Smart Highways Magazine: Industry News

Pothole spotter wins Highways Awards tech prize

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The 2017 Highways Awards have taken place in a glittering ceremony in London hosted by TV presenter Julia Bradbury. This year’s Best Use of Technology prize, supported by Platinum Sponsor MVIS, went to Gaist for its Pothole Spotter.

The Pothole spotter trial is an innovative, Department for Transport project working with Thurrock, York and Wiltshire Councils, independent research SOENCES and Gaist the innovative technology provider. It seeks to help councils in the future adopt a ‘smarter’ approach to highway repairs through the identification of potential potholes and intervention points before they start.

Extremely High-definition (HD) cameras mounted to refuse collection vehicles (RCVs) and other vehicles such as small council inspection vehicles, bikes and buses are being used to identify defects that, if not repaired, are likely to develop into potholes.


The pothole-spotter uses specialised High-definition cameras with capability to collect imagery that can also one day allow for machine learning, mounted on the front of a local authority’s existing refuse collection vehicle. A specialist hard-drive with wi-fi, in the cab, stores the imagery from the two cameras and at the end of each day the data is transferred to a computer in the depot and then sent overnight for analysis.

Over time the RCVs build up an image library of the road. The data generated will play a critical role in teaching us about how road deterioration occurs and the process and pace of small defects developing into bigger problems.

Councils will be able to harness this data to inform their road maintenance and repair strategies and to prevent expensive emergency repairs and compensation pay-outs. They will also be able to deploy it to significantly improve safety for all road users. It is a key output of the project that learning will be shared nationally and the trial will publish its findings.

A key element of the pothole-spotter project is its careful use of resources. By using existing vehicles, taxpayers’ money is used more efficiently.

Funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) and developed by SOENECS, the independent research and advisory practice, working in partnership with Gaist Solutions to deliver the service, the technology is currently being trialled in three areas – Thurrock, York and Wiltshire – the findings will be shared with authorities around the country to inform their approach to highways management, safety, repairs etc.

Congratulations also go to the shortlisted entries,

  • Crown Highways, Fit2Go Tyre Pressure Monitoring System reducing fuel consumption and hence fuel costs
  • Elgin and TomTom, Pro Real-time Traffic delivering the first comprehensive national validated roadworks disruption dataset
  • Tarmac, Morpeth Northern Bypass trialling automated paving technology



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