Summer 2020

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Also in this issue:

e SBIR Continues to Advance oTaremeye)®) ele) am lalate ond(e)p

¢ Restoring the Glory of | Going-to-the-Sun Road

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Can Augmented Reality Address Highway Construction Challenges? by Hoda Azari and Kevin Gilson FHWA conducted a study to explore the possibilities for AR technology in roadway construction.

CARMA“: Enabling Collaboration and Ensuring Safety in

Freight Operations

by Hyungjun Park, Nicole Michel, and Kirk Claussen FHWA-created CARMA®” software supports the testing and advancement of automated driving systems in the commercial trucking industry.

Going-to-the-Sun Road: Construction and Restoration by Doug Hecox Glacier National Park is nearing completion of a major rehabilitation of one of its most popular features.

Everybody Wins

by Craig Thor and Sarah Cigas FHWA’s Small Business Innovation Research Program is spurring market- ready innovations to address transportation challenges.

Facing Volcanic Challenges by Richelle Takara Hawait’s natural environment places particular demands on its department

of transportation, as exemplified by a 2018 lava flow event.

Hawaii eruption events create unique challenges. PAGE 26


Source: NPS. DEPARTMENTS GUGSE EQICOMOlh secssctasconseusucseseteipesnerecdueessereceest 1 INNOVATION COMED ou... eee eeeeseseseeseseeeeeeeeeees 2 AlONG thE ROA ............. cc cecsscstsscesseceeeeneens 30 TGIF UG WDC GUC cass scceccacunssstesseraeceitereerecsennins 33 Communication Product Updates ............. 36

COVERS and ABOVE-Lava pushes forward in the Puna district of the island of Hawaii on May 28, 2018.

Source: Sgt. ist Class Thomas Wheeler, State of Hawaii, Department of Defense.

é U.S. Department of Transportation @y Federal Highway Administration

U.S. Department of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, Secretary

Federal Highway Administration Nicole R. Nason, Administrator

Office of Research, Development, and Technology Kelly Regal, Associate Administrator

Shana Baker, Director, Office of Corporate Research, Technology, and Innovation Management

Maria Romstedt, Editor-in-Chief Lisa A. Shuler, Distribution Manager

Editorial Board: T. Everett, T. Hess, H. Kalla, M. Knopp, A. Lucero, G. Shepherd, C. Walker

Editorial Contractor:

Arch Street Communications (ASC),

Publication Management

N. Madonick, A. Jacobi, A. Martinez, K. Vangani, C. Ibarra

Editorial Subcontractor: ICF, Editorial C. Boris, J. Sullivan

Design Contractor: Schatz Strategy Group, Layout and Design R. Nemec, K. Salter, C. Williams

Public Roads (ISSN 0033-3735; USPS 516-690) is published quarterly by the Office of Research, Development, and Technology, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 6300 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA 22101-2296. The business and editorial office of Public Roads is located at the McLean address above. Phone: 202-493-3375. Fax: 202-493-3475. Email: Periodicals postage paid at McLean, VA, and additional mailing offices Cif applicable).

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Public Roads, HRTM-20, FHWA, 6300 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA 22101-2296.

Public Roads is sold by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. Requests for subscriptions should be sent directly to New Orders, Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 979050, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000. Subscriptions are available for 1-year periods. Paid subscribers should send change of address notices to the U.S. Government Printing Office, Claims Office, Washington, DC 20402.

The electronic version of Public Roads can be accessed through the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center home page (

The Secretary of Transportation has determined that the publication of this periodical is necessary in the transaction of the public business required by law of this department.

All articles are advisory or informational in nature and should not be construed as having regulatory effect.

Articles written by private individuals contain the personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FHWA.

All photographs are provided by FHWA unless otherwise credited.

Contents of this publication may be reprinted, provided credit is given to Public Roads and the authors.

For more information, representatives of the news media should contact FHWA‘s Office of Public Affairs at 202-366-0660.


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document. This document does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufac- turers. Trademarks or manufacturers’ names appear in this document only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document; they are included for informational purposes only and are not intended to reflect a preference, approval, or endorsement of any one product or entity.


Investing in Small Businesses Fuels Transportation Innovation

ntrepreneurs spur growth throughout the United

States by starting small businesses and by creating new technologies. Small businesses are perfectly poised to rapidly research, develop, and commercialize technol- ogies that address the Nation’s most pressing transporta- XM tion challenges. Apple®, Amazon®, Google™, Nest®, and Yahoo!® all started out as small businesses—and now they are household words.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, one of 11 Federal SBIR programs, is an engine of growth in the transportation economy. USDOT awards contracts to domestic small businesses in relevant research areas. The program provides funding for entrepreneurs to develop new transportation technology and associated applications. Over the past 5 years, USDOT has spent $50 million to fund small businesses. The Department’s operating administra- tions, such as the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, are integral to supporting the Department's SBIR awards activity.

Entrepreneurs have notched impressive results from their participation in USDOT’s SBIR program. One company, Pulsar Informatics, developed a trucking fatigue meter that lets different users—such as trucking companies, individual drivers, and insur- ance firms—know how the risk of fatigue affects driver safety, performance, and cost. New infrared sensing technologies from Fuchs Consulting, Inc., can detect subsurface damage in concrete and measure steel stress levels in bridges, enabling faster detection of deterioration and repairs. Tool, Inc., developed prototype seatbelt locking mechanisms that reduce the risk of children getting trapped in their seat belts.

“Everybody Wins,” on page 22 in this issue of Public Roads, focuses on two small businesses, Intelligent Automation, Inc., and ZKxKZ, Inc. Working with FHWA, they are taking different approaches to develop and deploy new technologies to improve highway operations and safety. Intelligent Automation, Inc., is using artificial intelli- gence to optimize traffic flows. ZKxKZ, Inc., is developing innovations in mini-round- about installation and materials.

Entrepreneurs excel in part because they have new ideas, they are free from bureau- cratic constraints, and their small size enables them to be nimble agents of change. USDOT is expanding its role in supporting innovation in the private sector. For exam- ple, this year the Department held a virtual “Pitch Day” in late May for small business owners who have applied to this year’s SBIR solicitation and were selected to present. Pitch Day is modeled on a similar Air Force event, where entrepreneurs can come and present their ideas, engage in a question and answer period with topic experts, and quickly hear about funding. For USDOT, this new process will result in contracts being awarded in weeks instead of months, so that small businesses can begin their work and receive funding sooner.

The SBIR program has funded thousands of entrepreneurs, many of whom are working toward commercializing their ideas. Jacob Crossman, a senior research engineer at SBIR beneficiary Soar Technology, says, “Without SBIR, Soar Technology would not have been able to execute this level of research and development internally.” Soar Technology is working on a technology that can help solve the problem of handoff in limited autonomy vehicles.

The Department would like to give entrepreneurs more awards for promising technology. This Federal support of entrepreneurs helps expand research into new transportation technologies that can improve our lives, our transportation system, and our economy.

De Fuychtyo H-(2o =

Diana Furchtgott-Roth

Deputy Assistant Secretary

for Research and Technology

U.S. Department of Transportation



From the Center for Local Aid Support

D> od

Building a Road to Success in the Age of Digital Learning



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Partners of the Center for Local Aid Support offer more than 400 courses on transpor- tation topics such as pavement preservation and environmental protections.

Source: FHWA.

hen it comes to the benefits of digital learning, together

everyone achieves more. The Center for Local Aid Support (CLAS) in the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Inno- vative Program Delivery built a support system to sponsor online learning opportunities for a changing transportation workforce and a fast-moving transportation industry. The center’s focus is on capacity building and ensuring that opportunities for profes- sional growth and development are available 24/7 to local agencies and Tribes.

“Learning never stops even when you are a seasoned profes- sional working in the transportation field,” says Victoria Peters, director of CLAS. “Today’s technology is not only enhancing our highway infrastructure; it is changing the way we learn. CLAS is integrating digital learning into our programs to help professionals keep pace.”

CLAS has established several partnerships that are making around-the-clock training available online to local agencies and Tribes to improve their transportation programs, policies, and processes.

“For decades, NACE has not had a more valuable Federal part- ner than FHWA,” says Kevan P. Stone, the executive director of the National Association of County Engineers (NACE). “The oppor- tunity for our members to continually build their skills and be introduced to cutting-edge innovation has been immeasurable and undoubtedly saved lives. The CLAS team represents the very best of FHWA, and the ever-changing local infrastructure landscape will make them a vital support source for years to come.”


Increasing Access to Continuous Learning

Capacity building is part of a continuous, long-term, strategic change process that can shift how transportation professionals think about and operate their highway system.

“Taking on a new job, trying a new process, or doing something new requires learning,” says Peters.

The availability of online learning courses offers convenience and saves time for an industry that never stops. CLAS provides training on innovative practices and the latest advancements through its bimonthly Innovation Exchange webinars and encour- ages dialogue among the participants in the webinars.

In addition, CLAS sponsors online access to over 400 transpor- tation training modules through partnerships with the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, the Institute of Transportation Engineers, and the National Highway Institute.

“I am thankful for [these organizations’] willingness to partner with FHWA to make their online resources available to comple- ment the longstanding training and technical assistance provided by the Local Technical Assistance and Tribal Technical Assistance Programs,” says Peters. “We all have a commitment to making the local transportation workforce stronger.”

Despite having a small team with many partners, CLAS has big goals to improve transportation for its local and Tribal customers.

“Our team is proud of the differences we are making in the transportation industry and we are even more proud that we are able to transform transportation as members of FHWA,” says Peters.

For more information on the Center for Local Aid Support and available online training, visit


CLAS sponsors online training for local and Tribal transportation agencies, such as courses from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Transportation Curriculum Coordination Council (TC3).

Visit TMy29r5!CU for more information. Source. FHWA.

TRINETTE BALLARD is c program manager with CLAS. She has worked for FHWA for 12 years.


Do you have research results or a program success story to share? ~

Are you using state-of-the-art technology or innovative methods that have had a positive effect on your program? Do you know of a good story that would be of interest to fellow highway professionals? If so, share your idea for a possible article in Public Roads. Promote your work while providing readers with valuable data, insights,

and lessons learned.

Guidelines: « Write a brief summary of your article idea (up to 1 page) « Do not endorse specific products, companies, or manufacturers * Include the primary author's name, title, and affiliation, as well as the email address, phone number, and mailing address for all authors « Submit your abstract to with “Public Roads Article Abstract” in

the subject line

For more information on requirements, submissions, and the approval and editorial processes, visit

* Ideas submitted by FHWA and State DOT authors preferred. Other Federal agencies, local and Tribal DOTs, field researchers and practitioners, and academia are also welcome to submit ideas but are encouraged to collaborate with FHWA or State DOTs.

= S © x S =) 2 = 2 B SS Se) = S oO) N ©


The Cooperative Automation Research Mobility Applications (CARMA) platform equips vehicles with the ability to interact and cooperate with roadway infrastructure and other vehicles—ultimately improving efficiency and safety and transforming transportation systems management and operations.

CARMA is an open source software platform that runs on a computer installed in a vehicle. The computer interacts with the vehicle’s devices to enable cooperative automated vehicle maneuvers.

The CARMA Collaborative is a growing community of CARMA users invested in developing intelligent transportation solutions. Please share this information with your professional associates.

Collaborate with

These CARMAS vehicles are equipped idem talc mO7AN Ai PAW el l-lace) germ al (era M-lar-le) (st- foxoantanteraycer-iitelamex:vaui-:1am(-val(eq(:t-wr-lare, roadway infrastructure. Source: FHWA.

FHWA created the platform to be vehicle and technology agnostic, enabling a wide range of participants in the transportation industry to test

it on their own vehicles. CARMA’s innovative approach and design encourages collaboration with industry, academia, and other public agencies on cooperative automation applications.

For more information, visit /research/research-programs/operations/CARMA or contact Taylor Lochrane at


U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration




LE ield operations in the transportation sector present many challenges. Among them are the lack of real-time and integrated information, gaps between planned solu- tions and practical implementations, quality assurance, and communications among project participants. As a result of the rapid advancement in computer interface design and hardware, augmented reality (AR) may be a tool to help overcome some of these obstacles.

AR offers an immersive technology that overlays virtual computer-generated information with the real environment in real time, enhancing the user’s percep- tion of reality and enriching the provided

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information content. This blending of project-specific information with the real- world site view can assist project man- agers and engineers with the delivery of their projects in a safe and timely manner and with greater efficiency and accuracy. In addition, with the ability to navigate through all phases of a construction project, managers can detect errors before they occur or change the design and construction details.

“Considering AR’s benefits and suc- cess in the entertainment and video game industries, leveraging AR appears to be an opportunity in construction management for highway infrastructure assets,” says

FHWA conducted a study to explore the possibilities for AR technology in roadway construction.

Dr. Kelly Regal, Associate Administrator, FHWA Office of Research, Development, and ‘Technology.

Over the last year, FHWA conducted a comprehensive study to investigate available AR technologies, their reliability and practi- cal application, and how these technologies can be applied to construction management. The results of that study follow.

Hand-held or Head-mounted? There are two basic categories of display types in AR systems: hand-held mobile devices, such as smartphones and tab- lets, and head-mounted display (HMD)

devices, such as headsets or glasses. Primary


differences include the way each device displays imagery to users and how the devices track their position relative to the real world.

Hand-held devices are typically video see-through displays that use the back-facing cameras on the device to capture video of the real-world environment and display that image on the front screen. With these displays, the device needs to be held close to eye level and at arm’s length to capture the widest field of view—which can be difficult over long periods of time and challenging in a construction site environment. Hand- held devices typically use a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) to determine the initial user location within a few meters, and then use the inertial movement of the device to change the view as the device is moved around.

Some vendors have demonstrated prototype applications that optically track the imagery in the video feed to support registration with the real-world view and track movement. Many commercially avail- able AR applications use a marker-based positioning tool, where a target is placed in the real world and viewed by the video feed to register real-world position relative to the virtual model.

Several off-the-shelf AR applications enable the user to display a 3D model over the live video feed of a mobile device. The application is given a “target” image, either graphical (for example, a plan or rendering) or a photograph. The image is printed out, and the application on the mobile device recognizes the target image and displays the 3D model in alignment as defined in the application. The model view is locked to the position of the target image in the video feed.

HMDs are typically optical see-through displays

where the



A user views a 8D bridge model, also projected behind him, using an AR head-mounted display. His hand gestures and finger movements enable him to navigate within the AR view.

© 2019 WSP

device's view of the real world is overlaid initial positioning with an HMD relies on by a virtual computer-generated image. GNSS tracking or a marker in the field. These devices offer more immersive and Some AR HMD devices can leverage the realistic experiences than hand-held devices | 3D scanning hardware used for AR tracking because the real-world view is direct and to capture existing 3D data in the field.

the virtual view is typically stereoscopic. The user views these virtual model elements The scene changes as the user's head moves. _ superimposed over the real-world view and Some HMD devices have built-in audio can line up the model elements to identical commands to change the view parame- elements in the real world. The precision of ters. [he audio controls help maintain the data depends on several factors, includ- hands-free operation. HMDs are typically ing available site survey information and the outfitted with more sophisticated and scanning precision of the sensor hardware. accurate tracking technology than off-the- “On a typical highway construction shelf hand-held devices, as the blending of site with good survey targets and a robust virtual imagery and the direct view out of 3D-model-based workflow, this ability to the device requires more precise alignment capture accurate data in real time using only of the imagery for true immersion and user = an HMD device can become an option comfort. Like hand-held devices, the user’s for site inspections,’ says Katherine Petros,

leader of the Infrastructure Analysis and AR applications can enable users to view 3D models Construction Team in FHWA’s Office of overlaid on the real-world scene infrontofthe [nfrastructure Research and Development. device. Here, a smartphone displays a 3D bridge : . . Tablet devices are making more rapid

model on top of a 2D map. Oo advances than HMD devices in the highway

AES onciaiictionie eld eeu they have com- paratively fewer display and viewing limita- tions. The tradeoff is less accurate tracking technology, and therefore, less precision

of the registration of virtual to real-world imagery. However, industry researchers

are trying to develop tablet devices with integrated special hardware and software to provide greater precision tracking and better registration of virtual 3D data to the real- world view.

Challenges for AR Systems in Construction Environments Construction sites—especially highway construction sites—are particularly chal- lenging for AR systems. Highway projects are typically made up of large, smooth, and flat objects lacking in fine details, making it more difficult for AR systems to track their location within the scene. Additionally, it is difficult for 3D modeling applications to represent these types of objects to be easily recognized by the user and the AR system. As a result, these elements require more preparation for their use in AR systems.

In addition, there are several technolog- ical barriers. AR systems require significant processing power and enough onboard storage to concurrently support tracking processes and the real-time display of the virtual 3D model. To be useful in a con- struction environment, AR devices must be standalone and portable, which means processing for tracking and display must be on board the device, not augmented by an external source. Some systems are tethered to a separate wearable com- puting device that reduces the necessary weight on an HMD. Larger 3D models, more accurate tracking, and increased display quality require more processing power. As AR systems evolve, there will be a tradeoff between performance of the system and the size, weight, and comfort of the AR device.

The brightness of the real-world environment presents a key challenge with HMDs. Typical highway construction sites are out- doors and bright, which limits the quality and usefulness of most current AR HMD devices. Bright, open environments are more challenging for the tracking technol- ogy to follow. Hand-held devices control the real-world display on the screen—the video display and virtual displays are better matched in overall brightness, providing better quality and greater realism.

“In the near term,” says Adrien Patané, a regional manager with an AR technology designer and manufacturer, “hand-held devices likely provide better opportunities for AR on outdoor construction locations.”

Another drawback of both hand-held and HMD devices is the limited field of

view of the overlaid virtual model presented to the user. Users must pan around with the device or turn their head back and forth to view a large area, which could be prohibitive over long periods.

Another technological challenge with AR systems is occlusion, or masking of hidden elements, which may be needed in com- plex construction environments. When the occlusion is ignored or displayed poorly, it negatively impacts the realism and immer- sive quality of the displayed scene.

AR systems also present difficulties because of the safety risks on a construction site. Like any display device, some user attention will be focused on the device and not entirely on the surroundings. Hand- held devices are held in front of the user, require the use of at least one hand, and can block visibility. HMDs can limit the user’s

peripheral view and block ambient sounds.

site. Here, the overlaid lines show the wireframe and surface geometry from the design data. © 2019 Trimble.

It may be possible to address this challenge in the future if devices could be designed to recognize safety issues and risks for the user by knowing the user’s precise location on the site.

AR Applications for Highway Construction Industry and technology manufacturers are developing AR applications for construction to display annotations and graphical infor- mation that enhance the understanding of real-world objects, combined with increased locational accuracy. In addition, 3D design and construction models can be overlaid, in their real-world position, in the view of the existing environment.

AR technology can display what is not

yet constructed, enabling users to see 3D design models in the real-world context.

It provides the user with the opportunity to compare design alternatives in context, check relationships between existing and future elements, monitor site logistics and equipment movements, and illustrate con- struction methods and sequencing.

After construction, AR can overlay and compare 3D design models (design intent) onto the end result in the field to inspect the construction, monitor compliance with codes and standards, and check quantities and work progress.

AR also can display existing elements that are not visible to the user in the real world, such as buried utilities or structural components or other elements obstructed from the current view. AR can show abstract information, such as alignment information, easements, site and right-of-way boundaries, environmental boundar- ies such as flood levels or sea-level rise data, potential work zone hazards, and metadata tagged to real- world objects. AR can also display unsafe areas and risks or guide users securely through a construction site.

AR systems prove useful for construction inspec- tion—for example, for measuring areas of newly installed concrete pads to calculate contractor payment amounts. The user can capture points with the AR device using finger gestures and a cursor placed over real-world points, and the device measures the areas of the surface enclosed. AR technologies can also be complemented by distance measurement capabilities, which enhance engineering and inspection functions by being able to observe distances between reality and pro- posed designs.

Most platforms for 3D design applica- tions support review and collection of data in the field through mobile devices. The field data are then synchronized with project models and data in the office. This provides an opportunity for collaboration between the field and office and ensures that the user with the device always has the latest, correct version of the model, which may also serve as a digital as-built to be used in future. While most of the tools offer ways of optimizing models and model display on


mobile devices with more limited processing power and storage, this optimization will

be even more important for AR devices and applications that require enough graphics performance to support real-time stereo- scopic rendering of the 3D models.

UDOT’s Perspective

Since 2016, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has been awarding select projects using 3D models as the legal document (MALD). To date, UDOT has awarded 11 projects with MALD, and fully constructed 8 of them. Although most of these projects also have included paper plan sets for information only, UDOT inspectors and contractors have used survey rovers

and mobile devices (with the 3D design model loaded) in lieu of the plans sets. In fact, while most construction crews began projects referencing the paper plan sets, all have stated that the use of mobile devices was easier and more efficient than using the plan sets.

In 2018, UDOT awarded its first project with MALD only, without creating and printing plan sheets. That project success led UDOT to forgo cutting sheets on later projects with MALD. The success of using mobile devices in the field is a significant precursor to the promise of AR use.

UDOT has used vendor apps on tablets in the field to inspect projects with MALD. However, these tools have not been user- friendly, and model authors have com- plained about added time when checking that their design information is transferred to the mobile device.

UDOT’s geographic information system (GIS) group has developed user-friendly solutions that can be applied in the field with a phone or tablet. UDOT construction inspection crews have been pleased with the tools, which led to UDOT developing addi- tional workflows for GIS tools in the field. In addition, UDOT is experimenting with the ability of these tools to also write digital information to a central set of databases, expecting the practice to replace paper or PDF plan sheet as-builts.

“Expanding the availability of 3D design models in the field with vendor apps or GIS tools will lead to a smooth transition to AR, likely on multiple platforms,” says George Lukes, a standards and design engineer with UDOT.

UDOT has worked with vendors on con- struction projects with AR. The tool UDOT tested could extract all of the features in the 3D design model. While the user held

a mobile device, the features were projected


on the screen in real time as the user rotated or moved the mobile device. When the field demonstration was done in late 2018 and early 2019, important attributes such as striping color, sign size, and draining

box dimensions from the 3D design model were not yet available on mobile devices with the vendor's AR app. Even without the attributes, crews commented on the value and were excited at the prospect of using AR with 3D design model attributes included.

With an improved tool, UDOT expects to test out AR use again on a project in summer 2020. UDOT anticipates that most, if not all, of the 3D design model attributes will be included in the AR app.

For UDOT, the most valuable use for AR will probably be for underground utilities during design, construction, and asset man- agement and operations. Although UDOT anticipates AR to be useful and valuable, there will be short-term gaps with most, if not all, information in 3D design models. Until a fully geospatial utility database is populated, the geospatial location of angle points, valves, and other details often will not be known during the design phase of the project.

UDOT is currently working toward populating a utility database. One benefit of such technologies is that they can lead to the proper recording of utility placement during construction. Once the utilities are observed in the field by AR devices, their locations and attributes are recorded as digi- tal as-builts for future applications.

“Although it may take a significant amount of time to populate an underground utility database, the potential for substan- tial reduction or elimination of delays due to utility conflict is impressive,”

says Lukes. “AR will 9

undoubtedly increase construction effi- ciency with accurate representations of the underground utilities.”

FDOT’s AR Modeling In Florida, AR is reshaping the how District Five of the Florida Department of Transpor- tation (FDOT) delivers projects. The agency uses the technology in almost every aspect of a project. Starting in the design phase, District Five is using AR to review 3D design models. The AR technology not only enables designers to identify errors, it also helps them to easily identify constructability issues with a design.

For example, designers have used AR to identify conflicts between drainage struc- tures and existing utilities. While these conflicts can be seen in a computer-aided design and drafting environment, construc- tability of the inlet is not always as obvious. Nearby utility poles or other hard features can sometimes impact the constructability of the drainage structures. AR makes these conflicts easily visible.

FDOT also uses AR technology to review and visualize a model and get feedback from stakeholders in the design phase. Instead of the stakeholders reviewing a project on a 2D sheet of paper, they are able to view an AR model in the field. This visual overlay results in a faster review and a better overall understanding of the project.

FDOT is moving into its first construc- tion project using AR. The team is using automated machine guidance to construct a majority of the elements. The project has no plan sheets and instead has a signed and sealed 3D model as the contract document. This puts additional emphasis on the model compared to other projects. AR will enable crews to quickly check constructed elements against the proposed model. The AR tech- nology will also enable contractors to review

form work before concrete is poured. a Any element that needs

to be laid out during construction can

be quickly checked against the proposed model with AR technology.

AR devices can provide a 3D virtual view of underground utilities, such as this manhole access point and the surrounding piping, as well as text with associated data.

© 2019 Trimble.

After construction, the benefits of AR continue. FDOT’s maintenance offices will be able to use the 3D as-built record for future maintenance and rehabilitation with a high degree of accuracy.

Other States are using AR technologies to improve their processes and outcomes as well.

The Michigan Department of Trans- portation used AR technologies for visual- ization of bridge replacements on the I-94 Advanced Bridges Project in downtown Detroit. The ability to visualize the new bridge design over the existing aging bridge, including abutments and structural details, enabled the project team to review proposed design elements overlaid on reality. This provided the designers with unique perspec- tives and contextual placement of their 3D designs. Future applications of AR technol- ogy could include verifying that existing 3D models containing underground utilities are accurate, visualizing potential conflicts between the proposed design and existing facilities, and communicating the proposed design to affected project stakeholders.

TOP: Michigan DOT tapped into AR to help visualize pro- posed design changes for the Second Avenue Bridge to share with the public and stakeholders.

CENTER: AR is proving beneficial to engineers in helping to locate underground utilities, enabling designers to verify location accuracy for its 3D modeling.

BOTTOM: Engineers used AR to propose design elements, overlaying the elements onto existing conditions on the bridge carrying Milwaukee Avenue over I-75.




In Sacramento, CA, a recent construc- tion manager/general contractor study of new bridge construction incorporated AR technologies. The team could review the 3D model in the office and then use the AR model onsite for visualization of bridge pilings, right-of-way, and structure compo- nents, as well as clearly identify an under- ground high pressure jet fuel line that ran parallel to the new bridge.

FHWA Research Findings

AR hardware, software, and applications are rapidly changing and improving. The find- ings of the FHWA research study of current technologies, opportunities, and challenges all point to potential future directions for AR use in highway construction. However, future applications will require investment in specific hardware and software frame- works. The FHWA study identified the following top five potential applications in terms of possible impact on transportation construction and feasibility of development:

1. Supporting right-of-way acquisition and providing project visualization to property owners to better understand project impacts and design options.

2. Visually annotating the schedule and quality variances in the field to ensure that all parties view the same issues.

3. Verifying proper installation by provid- ing the right information and format for inspectors in the field.

4. Supporting training and certification for construction inspection.

9. Supporting automated compli- ance checks of codes and stan- dards for installed items through machine learning.

These identified potential applications can serve as starting points for transpor- tation agencies and developers to focus their AR development and implementation efforts in the near- and long-term future. The most important requirements for each application are the software development; the coordination of hardware as an inte- grated working solution; and the applica- tion for the user interface, data input and output, and 3D model management. The application and hardware should be seamless so that the users can focus on the tasks they need to accomplish.

The lack of information on return on investment to justify AR implementation is a challenge. This is a traditional barrier to new technologies; however, independent field trials have helped address the concern and further the development and imple- mentation of the technologies. Multiple objective field trials that examine the benefits and costs of AR based on empirical results will further alleviate this obstacle.

“Just as innovations in automated machine guidance, inspection, and quality assurance using unmanned aerial systems are changing highway construction for the better, advancements in AR technolo- gies offer the potential to facilitate con- struction inspection processes, says Hari Kalla, FH WA’s Associate Administrator for Infrastructure. “Innovations such as 3D-model-based workflows that are being advanced through FHWA’s Every Day Counts initiative will provide opportuni- ties for using AR on highway construction projects in the future.”

HODA AZARI is the manager of the Nondestruc- tive Evaluation (NDE) Research Program and NDE Laboratory at FHWA’s Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center. She holds a Ph.D. in civil engi- neering from the University of Texas at El Paso.

KEVIN GILSON is the director of design visualization in the project visualization group with an interna- tional transportation consultancy firm. He over- sees visualization production, technology devel- opment and innovation, implementation of building information modeling, and 3D-model-based design processes within the firm. He holds an M.A. in design from the University of California, Berkeley.

For more information, contact Hoda Azari at

A screen shot from the display of an AR headset shows the 3D wireframe view of surface data captured by sensors on the device and superimposed over a video view of the existing site. The overlaid numbers show the size of the area being scanned, 17.769 square meters (191.26 square feet).


Screenshot © Los Alamos National Laboratory. AR headset photo © Dekdoyjaidee / iStockphoto.

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FHWA/s CARMA program has equipped four commercial motor vehicles to study connected vehicles


“The primary mission of the U.S. Depart- ment of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. In 2019, there were 128,739 crashes involving large trucks and buses, which caused 3,543 fatal- ities and 68,851 injuries. Cooperative driv- ing automation (CDA) has the potential to increase the safety of the Nation’s roadways and achieve USDOT’s vision of safer roads and zero fatalities.

In a joint project, the Federal Highway Administration, FMCSA, U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), and USDOT’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO) are using CARMA software to develop CDA

systems that can improve the transportation

efficiency and safety of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). CDA equips vehicles with the ability to communicate with other vehicles, infrastructure, pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users.

Composed of the CARMA Platform*™ and CARMA Cloud™, CARMA is an open-source software created by FHWA that enables researchers and engineers to develop and test CDA features on properly equipped vehicles across different travel scenarios.

The CARMA Platform provides coopera- tive research functionality to an automated driving system (ADS) and, in tandem with the real-time traffic and weather informa- tion provided by CARMA Cloud, enables automated vehicles to interact and cooperate with other vehicles and infrastructure.

“The CARMA ecosystem was architected

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and automated vehicle technology applications in freight. Source: FHWA.

with a flexible framework to advance emerg- ing automated driving technology that will enable CDA,” says Taylor Lochrane, a tech- nical program manager in FHWA’s Office of Operations Research and Development. “The framework enables seamless integra- tion with diverse vehicle models ranging from passenger cars to heavy trucks.”

The latest version of CARMA is publicly available on the GitHub development plat- form at https:/ /CARMAPIatform.

Freight and Research Focus FMCSA’s Automated CMV Evaluation program focuses on research, development, and testing of CARMA-equipped commer- cial trucks, as documented in the agency's

Automated Truck Safety Research Plan.


CARMA-equipped freight vehicles navigate the roads around FHWA’s Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center. Source; FHWA.

FMCSA is currently expanding its knowl- edge base in the areas of automated CMV inspections, operation of automated CMVs in and around work zone areas, and consid- erations for emergency response personnel when interacting with