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New IDEAS for Highway Systems: Annual Progress Report January 2013

Posted by Content Coordinator on Tuesday, January 1st, 2013



This annual report presents a summary of progress on investigations conducted as part of the Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis (IDEA) program for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). The NCHRP-IDEA program is jointly funded by the state highway agencies through membership in the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

NCHRP-IDEA is one of three IDEA programs managed by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) to foster innovation in highway and intermodal surface transportation systems. NCHRP-IDEA nurtures new concepts for technologies, methods, and processes for application to highway systems in broad technical areas such as highway design and construction, materials, operations, and maintenance. The other IDEA program areas are

■ Transit-IDEA, which focuses on products and results for transit practice in support of the Transit Cooperative Research Program; and
■ Safety-IDEA, which focuses on innovative technologies to improve transportation safety, with emphasis on commercial motor vehicles.

All of the IDEA programs are integrated to support advances in highway, transit, safety, rail, and intermodal systems.
The IDEA programs are open to all individuals, including entrepreneurs, small and large businesses, and institutions. The program provides an opportunity to investigate new and unproven concepts or to evaluate novel applications of technologies that have been tried, tested, or used for highway, transit, high-speed rail, or intermodal systems practice.

The selection of each IDEA investigation is made by consensus recommendations from panels of national experts in highway and transportation research and practice and is approved by the NCHRP-IDEA Project Committee, whose members are listed at the beginning of this report. A technical expert is selected from outside TRB to serve as a voluntary advisor to mentor each IDEA project. The technical project advisor provides continuing advice and counsel on the IDEA investigation to the investigator and the IDEA program office. In order to begin the product transfer process from the initiation of each IDEA project, a regional panel of experts is nominated to work with the investigator on product development and transfer to highway practice. The products emerging from the NCHRP-IDEA project support a range of innovative developments for highway user services and for advancing highway systems.

Section 1 of this report presents short descriptions of projects completed before the 2012 program year. The products and results from these projects have been applied or are available for further investigation for application to highway practice. The product status is described under each project. Because of limitations on IDEA resources, not all IDEA concepts that prove feasible can be accommodated for follow-up funding by the NCHRP-IDEA program for product transfer. Section 2 presents reports of investigations on projects active or completed during the 2012 program year; several projects in this section are in the initial stages of investigation. Section 3 presents IDEA projects performed under a cost-sharing initiative with the National Science Foundation.

In selecting new concepts, the IDEA program balances the quest for new products with an understanding of the barriers each product may face for application to practice. Assessing the level of readiness for deployment of IDEA products and results is important in deciding on follow-up actions that are necessary to transfer the IDEA product to practice. The annual report is intended to provide highway practitioners with the background on each IDEA investigation and product in development so that a dialogue on its potential transfer can take place between the investigator and highway practitioners.

Section 1: Completed IDEA Projects
NCHRP-IDEA Project 1
On-Line Real-Time Measurement and Control of Aggregate Gradation in Asphalt Plants

This IDEA project developed and tested a non-contact video imaging and analysis system (Figure 1) for continuous on-line measurement and flow control of aggregate gradation (size distribution) in an asphalt plant.

The system’s hardware consists of a lamp and a line-scan video camera installed over feeder belts from each of the cold bins. The software system incorporates the principles of machine vision, image processing, stereology, and mathematical analysis. Raw images of the aggregates falling onto the master belt are gathered by frame grabbers and preprocessed by image processing boards connected to the data bus of a host computer. Additional image-processing distribution and particle-recognition algorithms determine the chord-length distribution of aggregates from video images. The chord-length distribution is then transformed into volumetric (sieve) size gradations. Proportioning factors for the bins are applied to comply with the job mix formula, and belt feeder speeds are adjusted accordingly to deliver a uniform flow of aggregates

Read full report (PDF) here: New IDEAS for Highway Systems

About The Transportation Research Board
“The Transportation Research Board is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council, which serves as an independent adviser to the federal government and others on scientific and technical questions of national importance. The National Research Council is jointly administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to provide leadership in transportation innovation and progress through research and information exchange, conducted within a setting that is objective, interdisciplinary, and multimodal.”

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