City of Savannah using new technology to better assess road conditions

Updated: Jul. 25, 2018 at 11:58 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The city of Savannah is using new technology to assess roadway conditions.

Partnering with a company called "Roadbotics," the city hopes to cut costs and time as they improve the roads. We rode along with the co- owner of the company to see how it works.

"Lots of people will complain about potholes. Potholes are an enormous issue," said Ben Schmidt, co-founder of Roadbotics, as he used the technology on a downtown Savannah street. "This is an asphalt road, so you can see some of the cracking that's happening on both sides of it."

The company "Roadbotics," takes a smartphone and puts it in the dashboard of a car.

"We mount it in such a way that it's looking out over the hood of the vehicle. We're collecting video data, as well as GPS and accelerometer information and we combine all that together and put it into our cloud systems," Schmidt said.

Heath Lloyd, Chief of Infrastructure and Development, says the city used to hire interns to do the surveys. It took them three years to scope about 700 miles of city roadways, and cost around $120,000. They say with Roadbotics, smartphones could assess 350 miles of roadway in a few months. The city says the total cost of the project will also decrease to $50,000.

"We can now turn around and invest that in our infrastructure," said Lloyd.

If they close the deal, the city hopes to use city vehicles already running throughout the day. They say sanitation trucks could cover residential areas, and public works vehicles could cover more major roads. Street sweepers would also be able to assess areas where cars might normally be parked.

"We can do this more regularly, do it more affordably for our government. That means you can have your road network monitored more frequently," said Schmidt.

Flooding on downtown streets also makes many Savannah roads impassible. While the technology is still fairly new, Roadbotics hopes they will be able to assess larger road infrastructure problems like these in the future.

The technology also works on Savannah's historic cobblestone roads, but it will only allow them to visually monitor the roads. It will not allow for a quantitative analysis like normal roadways.

We will continue to monitor the situation and let you know how effective this new technology is in the long run.

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