Researchers from Australia’s Monash University and China’s Chang’an University have developed an asphalt 3D-printer that autonomously detects and fills cracks in pavement.

To develop the autonomous platform, the researchers modified a fusion deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer with a mounted camera and an image processing algorithm.

In the lab, the platform captured images of cracks in concrete pavement slabs and sent those images via microcontroller to the algorithm, which identified where to apply bitumen emulsion sealant.

Source: International Journal of Pavement EngineeringSource: International Journal of Pavement Engineering

According to its developers, the automated platform successfully detected and filled the cracks in the pavement slabs autonomously in the lab, proving that the technology could one day automate road maintenance and repair.

Considered time consuming and costly, road maintenance and repair of damage incurred from weather and excessive traffic can cause delays and even injury when carried out by humans. However, researchers hope that automating the tasks will reduce the risks, traffic delays and costs associated with conventional road repairs.

The researchers detail their work in the study "A laboratory prototype of automatic pavement crack sealing based on a modified 3D printer," which appears in the International Journal of Pavement Engineering.

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