Now, drones to track real-time progress of road conditions (NHAI to map 3,000 km highways)

ROMDAS

With rising accidents on national highways and worsening conditions of roads, NHAI is going to start real-time tracking of roads.

NHAI has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) under Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and North East Centre for Technology Application and Research (NECTAR), for use of spatial technology for monitoring and managing the national highways.

ISRO is the nodal agency whereas NRSC, a part of ISRO, is the focal point for distribution of remote-sensing satellite data products in India. The NRSC will supply satellite data products acquired by ISRO and foreign satellite product companies. NECTAR will use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, for acquiring aerial images.

For this exercise, NHAI has already roped in SATRA Infrastructure Management Services Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary firm of New Zealand-based HIMS Ltd and Data Collection Ltd.

Meanwhile, the NHAI has begun a pilot project to map its 3,000 km highways using a specially designed vehicle named Road Asset Management System (RAMS), which captures details including quality, roughness, encroachments and other parameters. All this data is fed into a central pool for reference i.e., NRSC. RAMS will use the Gagan and Bhuvan satellite systems to prepare a 360-degree mapping of road assets.

At present, NHAI has completed 1,000 km and the output of this exercise will help better planning, programming and budgeting for undertaking road development. In fact, even contractors can feed their information online for ready reference of authorities.

What is RAMS?
RAMS is a specially designed vehicle which uses the state-of-the-art Road Measurement Data Acquisition System (ROMDAS) equipment for data collection. It’s a low cost modular, yet comprehensive, system designed to collect asset and pavement information using almost any vehicle.

The core system allows for a number of add-on modules for advanced data collection including modules for crack detection, linear profile and roughness, transverse profile and rutting, GPS/GNSS, video logging and more. In addition, ROMDAS offers great flexibility by allowing users to add or remove modules depending on their specific data collection needs and is one of the few fully customisable systems.

How it operates
The ROMDAS software runs on a laptop or rack-mounted computer in the vehicle and is interfaced to a number of instruments used to measure and record road data. The modular layout also allows users to customise their systems by adding or removing devices, depending on their data collection needs. During the survey, the laptop monitors both the distance travelled and the activities of the other instruments and records the data. At the end of the survey the data is processed into a Microsoft Access file.