To Combat Potholes, Cities Turn to Technology

Other local governments also are trying to think ahead. More than 40 of them, from San Joaquin County, California, to Quincy, Massachusetts, contract with a Pittsburgh software company that uses smartphone cameras and algorithms to create color-coded maps of road networks that show not only potholes but the cracks and fissures where they might develop.

The company, RoadBotics, sends out drivers with the phones placed on windshields. Drivers turn on an app that collects video from every street and sends the data to the cloud. The company, which charges $75 a mile, then uses artificial intelligence to analyze the road surface the same way a trained pavement engineer would, CEO Mark DeSantis said.

“This saves time and effort of having to send people out and inspect the roadways,” DeSantis said. “Staring at mile after mile of pavement is difficult, it’s tedious, and in some cases, it’s dangerous.”