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60035-1 Report Abstract

A Model for Evaluating Automation in Road Maintenance

Arif Osmani, Carl Haas and W. R. Hudson, University of Texas at Austin, April 1994, 134 pp.

User costs related to maintenance operations represent a considerable amount of public expense in the United States. They are in the forms of extra fuel consumption, higher vehicular operating and maintenance costs, and additional travel time. As the demand for road maintenance keeps increasing, there is a tremendous need to reduce the user costs by introducing new technologies. Automating road maintenance can help to minimize the user costs. Fifteen automated systems for various road maintenance purposes are examined in this report that show very high potential in this regard. These developments not only represent a global trend of technological advancements in road maintenance, but also demonstrate that automation in road maintenance is technically feasible. An economic analysis which compares the costs and benefits of an automated crack-sealing system recently developed at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Texas at Austin shows that such a system can reduce the direct costs of maintenance operations and produce numerous user benefits. With this economic analysis, it is clear that the automated systems will pay for themselves. One of the major findings in this study is that the greatest potential benefit represented by automation technologies in road maintenance is to reduce the user costs. The amount of money that can be potentially saved in this category is often much more than that which can be saved directly in maintenance operations.

Keywords: Automated Road Maintenance, Automated Crack Sealing, User Costs

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Reference Report #60035-1