City road surveying goes high tech

Published On: Jul 06 2012 06:06:37 PM HST   Updated On: Jul 06 2012 08:47:08 PM HST

Potholes.  They're a part of our roads and they damage our cars.  In the past three years, the city has paid more than $20,000 in vehicle damage claims because of road conditions.

Now, Honolulu has come up with a new solution to the problem.

Oahu's road maintenance is going high tech.  The city unveiled a cutting edge data collection technology that slashes the time it takes to survey roads and save money for taxpayers as well.

Drivers across Oahu will soon see the new vehicle on the road.  It's a part of the city's new federally-funded pavement management system.  High resolution cameras mounted on the car capture panoramic imagery of the road.

"We can capture at speed limit speeds," said Dennis Hirota, of Sam O. Hirota, Inc.  "If we're on the highway, we can be driving 50 mph and still capture the image."

The data collection system is equipped with Earthmine technology, which snaps 3-D street level shots.  The current road survey process takes two years where data is handwritten and requires four crew members.  This new high tech version takes less than a month.

All you need to operate the camera vehicle is a single driver.  The only time the driver will need to operate the laptop is to start the process and to finish it.

Department of Facility Maintenance Director Westley Chun said the snapshots will help officials identify and track road conditions, including potholes.

"It won't just be based on complaints.  It won't be based on subjective observations," said Chun.  "It's a scientific-based method that we'll be using."

Earthmine officials said the camera is built to last.

"This particular camera has 20 million actuations.  This thing can go day and night for five years without failing," said Hirota.

The system is one of 12 around the world.  Australia, Oakland and San Diego, Calif. are also using the system to maintain roads.

PHOTOS: New city car to survey roads


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