Predictive Maintenance Using the Power of Satellites

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Study reveals that SAR satellite data can provide early detection of infrastructure issues and help prevent further damage to roads, like an annual health checkup.

Infrastructure becomes more susceptible to failure as it ages, which can cause safety and mobility concerns for drivers and pedestrians. A team of researchers from Texas A&M University found a possible solution to this problem.

According to Techxplore, a study published by the researchers discusses a new method of infrastructure monitoring that uses Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) remote sensing systems that allows researchers to inspect and characterize pavements, retaining walls, and embankments from space and help find possible flaws for repair, saving valuable time.

Furthermore, in addition to saving time on repairs and preventative measures, using satellites to monitor infrastructure and pavement conditions could potentially reduce costs associated with managing roadway infrastructure assets. Ph.D. candidate Amit Gajurel explained: “We’re building this up to use as a source of data for geotechnical asset management and looking at how to integrate this remote sensing data into geotechnical asset management… We can use SAR data for managing the geotechnical assets. This could be a great method for organizations that are looking for a cost-effective way to manage these assets.”

Dr. Anand Puppala, fellow author of the study, also explained that SAR remote sensing technology has been used to study geomorphological changes and sudden movements like earthquakes and landslides in the past. He elaborated that when there is damage due to a natural disaster, authorities use satellite systems to determine what caused it. The researchers then used the same method to look at transportation infrastructure (highway embankments, roads, airport runways, and more).

Just like doctors recommend preventative medicine, which provides doctors with more time to create the best plan for their patients, incorporating infrastructure condition data from SAR technology would enable asset managers to be proactive in repairing any flaws, budgeting for potential issues, and ultimately saving both time and money.