The NSW government is funding Asset AI, a $2.9 million trial – currently involving 32 sensors installed on 32 public transport buses across Greater Sydney area – which is being led by Transport for NSW and the Roads and Transport Directorate.
The new technology can be combined with local weather observations to predict the rate of deterioration and streamline how road asset maintenance is prioritised.
“The people of NSW have embraced digital services through products like the ServiceNSW app, Dine and Discover vouchers, Fuel Check and Park’nPay and expect modern service delivery,” minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Victor Dominello said.
“There will always be cracks in the road and there will always be potholes but with smart tech like this we can predict deterioration, streamline maintenance and get to better outcomes much faster.”
Minister for Metropolitan Roads, Natalie Ward said this cutting-edge technology is revolutionising road maintenance across the state.
“It’s a brilliant use of resources already on our roads. Mounting cameras and sensors onto vehicles with regular routes, like garbage trucks and public transport buses, ensures road defects are captured incidentally, including those un-reported by residents,” Ward said.
“This AI technology assesses the captured footage and logs any road defects detected into a database in near-real time, meaning it will find potholes and cracks in the road before they find you.”
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Sam Farraway said road data is also being collected outside of the city with a utility vehicle mounted with cameras scanning 100km of rural roads, across regional NSW.
“A ute with the road scanning camera and user interface mounted is travelling across 100km of regional NSW roads to detect and report on road conditions,” Farraway said.
“We will have it out collecting data along the Great Western Highway between Lithgow and Bathurst, the Sturt Highway near Wagga Wagga and around Spring Ridge in the Upper Hunter.”
A pre-trial was undertaken with Canterbury-Bankstown Council last year. Asset AI is now being developed with initial camera and sensor trials underway across Greater Sydney.
Canterbury Bankstown mayor, Khal Asfour said Asset AI will save councils and ratepayers money and improve road safety.
“We do an audit of our roads once every four years and it is very expensive. This new technology will allow us to do it on a weekly basis instead,” Asfour said.
“Asset AI uses predictive analysis to improve road maintenance by predicting the risk to the community rather than just reporting the condition of the road assets, and that’s great news for our residents.”
IPWEA NSW and ACT operate the Roads and Transport Directorate, which is a joint venture with Local Government NSW.
The organisation’s President Grant Baker said Asset AI could revolutionise current practices.
“This initiative is a game-changer for local government to re-imagine the way they currently assess and audit roads to fully benefit from new technology,” Baker said.
“It’s all about putting communities at the centre of everything we do.”
Further testing is being rolled out across regional and metropolitan regions including Georges River, Blayney, Central Coast, Liverpool, Wingecarribee, Sutherland, Warren Shire, Liverpool Plains, Griffith, Tamworth, Wollongong, and Murray River Councils in September.
The Asset AI project is funded by the NSW Digital Restart Fund and is expected to be available to all NSW local government areas in late 2023.