New AI technology is being used to detect road defects in Dubai to improve the city's transport network and improve safety.
Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) patrol cars scan the emirate's motorways to detect cracks and potholes, as well as any other defects in need of repair, to reduce potential risks and inconvenience to motorists.
The technology will be able to detect cracks as small as 1mm on the city's road network.
The cutting-edge device will be mounted on patrol vehicles and will be able to identify up to 13 types of defects on the roads.
Hamad Al Shehi, director of roads and facilities maintenance at the RTA, told The National that the pavement management system will help the authority to complete maintenance of 168 lane-kilometres this year, more than double the amount repaired last year.
A lane-kilometre is a kilometre-long segment of roadway that is a single lane in width.
"This system surpasses conventional inspection methods and can detect cracks as small as 1mm," he said.
"The technology utilises advanced sensors and artificial intelligence algorithms to identify and analyse road flaws."
The system works by scanning the road surface and instantly detecting cracks, thanks to its high-resolution cameras and laser scanning capabilities.
Since Dubai's network spans 18,765 lanes, the vehicle can scan the emirate's road network once every two years.
"The ability to identify and address even the tiniest crack in our roads is paramount to maintaining their integrity and ensuring the safety of road users," Mr Al Shehi said.
He said that the system had also been used to make a virtual map of Dubai's roads that is 97 per cent accurate.
Without human interaction, the system's AI algorithms process the captured data in real time, analysing various parameters such as crack width, depth and location.
It then generates comprehensive reports for RTA engineers, enabling them to prioritise and plan repairs or resurfacing projects.
By detecting and addressing these cracks at an early stage, the RTA aims to extend the lifespan of the road infrastructure and reduce maintenance costs.
"The system contributed to improving the pavement quality index of Dubai roads to 95 per cent last year," he said. "It also predicts the future of maintenance plans on the roads."
Mr Al Shehi said that traffic volumes, rain and hot temperatures can affect road surfaces.
Improvement works have already been carried out on key routes such as the Sheikh Zayed Road, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road and the Dubai-Al Ain road.
Mr Al Shehi said that as Dubai continues to evolve and expand, innovative measures can ensure the durability and safety of the emirate's extensive road network.
"RTA's latest system promises to create a future where roads are not just efficient and well connected, but also safe and meticulously maintained," he said.