Visualizing the conditions of roadside slopes to keep social infrastructure safe
As social infrastructure ages, its maintenance and management are becoming increasingly important. Consequently, they are expected to require more frequent inspections in the years to come.
Roads are an integral part of the social infrastructure. Keeping them safe as they age requires proper inspection of all essential elements—the road surfaces, tunnels, and roadside slopes. Ricoh has automated the inspection systems by combining its original optical systems with AI digital technologies, offering cost-effective, efficient inspection solutions.
Artificial and earthen roadside slopes are a major structural component of roadways and are used extensively. Just like other roadway features, roadside slopes have weathered and aged significantly. As a result, their safety management has become a societal challenge. Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) issued Road Earthwork Structure Inspection Procedures in 2017, initiating a nationwide inspection of roadside slopes. Effective maintenance and management efforts ensure that roadside slopes will continue to serve as an integral part of the social infrastructure.
Civil engineers regularly climb up steep roadside slopes to conduct a visual inspection. This immense and dangerous workload requires climbing numerous, sometimes lengthy slopes, which entails significant falling risks from high and steep locations.
Ricoh is developing a vehicle-mounted photographing system that automatically captures and measures slope conditions in fine detail. Simultaneously, Ricoh is automating related workflow processes, including photo data analysis and records storage. This efficient and effective slope inspection system will allow for more slopes to be inspected with increased quality. Civil engineers will only need to manually check those areas where high-risk damage or degradation has been detected through analyzing the photograph data.
The measurement system features multiple line-sensor cameras and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). A single image can cover a tall and wide slope area in high definition.
While images are recorded, LiDAR concurrently records the contours of the slopes in 3D, revealing the cross-sectional shapes that cannot be seen from 2D images. These images can spot symptoms of a potential collapse, such as lifting and swelling.
AI is used to automatically detect anomalies, including crevices, peels, and cracks, providing an overall image of the slope's general deterioration. Where necessary, close-ups can be output at high resolution for closer analysis. In addition, iterative scans and photos will show chronological changes in anomalies, giving planners the information needed for effective inspections.
With Ricoh-developed optical technologies and systems, it has been further developing technologies that can be applied to social infrastructure maintenance and management, including roadway pavement and tunnels. The applications now extend to roadside slopes.
By developing systems to monitor the social infrastructure, Ricoh will continue to provide solutions to resolve a range of social challenges, including the aging of our social infrastructure and declining labor force.