The cost of congestion on major highways has become very high indicating the need for increased highway capacity and resulting in the conceptual development of automated highway systems. Although much research is ongoing concerning the manner in which automated highways should operate and how they should be implemented, there has been minimal investigation concerning construction and maintenance requirements. As the demand and performance of the highway increases, the impact of maintenance and construction operations will in turn be more dramatic. Therefore, the need for improved maintenance and construction techniques is vital to the success of the high capacity AHS.
As existing highway systems deteriorate, labor costs have increased, resulting in the need and development of more efficient and safer highway maintenance techniques using automation and robotics. Automated systems have been successfully developed to perform various maintenance tasks such as crack sealing. Research in the field of automated road maintenance and construction has shown that there is significant potential for cost saving due to increased efficiency, increased safety, and fewer traffic delays.
A model to estimate the cost benefits of robotic construction and maintenance for automated highway systems is developed in this report. The analysis considers the direct costs to the transportation agency or contractor and the user costs to the driving public. Direct costs are associated with equipment, labor, and material costs. User costs are due to increased traffic congestion resulting from highway maintenance operations. The computer model was developed to quantify the benefits associated with the automation of a particular maintenance task. Case studies of magnetic markers installation and pavement repairs were performed and results are given.