New Pavement Research

The Soga Research Group in collaboration with the UC Pavement Research Center  has been researching the transportation networks of the future by installing state-of-the-art sensors into a new roadway system, with support from CITRIS (Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society ). The new road, named SR-1 will serve as a multi-purpose research facility for exploring event detection for informing autonomous vehicles, pavement performance monitoring, road-noise driven subsurface imaging using geophysical methods, and seismic monitoring. The initiative was led by Soga Research Group members Ruonan Ou, Peter Hubbard, Hayato Nonaka, Linqing Luo, and Yaobin Yang. The work was further supported by Irwin Guada, Angel Mateos and Fabian Paniagua of the UC Pavement Research Center as well as Dean Scott Shackleton and Justin Cocke of UC Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station.

SR-1 includes a 48’ wide and 310’ long paved roadway instrumented with distributed fiber optic sensors (DFOS) and high-resolution strain sensors embedded in between layers of hot-mix asphalt (HMA). Adjacent to the roadway are DFOS buried at various depths that run the length of the road. Due to the versatility of using fiber optic cables as sensors, several different sensing methods can utilize the same sensing element. Static and dynamic distributed strain sensing (DSS), distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) and distributed temperature sensing (DTS) have all been deployed to conduct various test at this facility thus far.

First, the paving process itself was monitored using the underlying sensors to perform defecting and tracking of construction vehicles, workers, and processes. DAS was used for event detection and tracking, while DTS was used to determined where HMA had been laid and the progress of the material cooling. DSS was used to observe strain to the base materials during compaction of the HMA. IN addition, the discrete strain gauges were used to measure the strain in the HMA as it was compacted during the standard paving process.

Since paving, several other experiments have been conducted at SR-1, including the capability of the sensors to detect and track motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, and low flying aircraft. In addition, the facility is near the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center’s Earthquake Simulator Laboratory. SR-1 has been used to assess the possibility of using the roadway systems of the future to monitor seismic activity by simulating earthquakes nearby.

SR-1 was completed in July of 2020 with crews practicing safe social distancing and sanitization protocols to continue research efforts through the COVID-19 pandemic. SR-1 will be a crucial UCB facility for transportation, geotechnical, geophysical and seismology research for years to come.

The Soga Research Group’s new research facility, SR-1 at UC Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station