Official US Government Icon

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.

Secure Site Icon

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

The latest general information on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is available on For USDOT specific COVID-19 resources, please visit our page.

Characterization Of Unpaved Road Conditions Through The Use Of Remote Sensing

Date: 11/19/2014, 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Speaker: Colin Brooks
Organization: Michigan Tech Research Institute, Michigan Technological University
OST-R Office: University Transportation Centers (UTC)


Colin BrooksLocal governments and transportation agencies have shown growing interest in a cost effective system that rapidly assesses the changeable condition of unpaved roads in their jurisdictions. With advances in remote sensing technology and platforms such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), it has become more feasible to monitor conditions and provide data useful for unpaved road asset management. With the use of a consumer grade Digital Single Lens Reflex camera (DSLR) and a remote controlled hexacopter, the Michigan Tech research team developed and demonstrated a working version of the Unsurfaced Road Condition Assessment System (URCAS), which is both cost-effective and easily deployable to multiple sites. Using a combination of existing image processing tools for creating three-dimensional data from overlapping aerial images, plus custom distress detection algorithms, URCAS is able to locate and characterize the severity of potholes, rutting, loss of crown, corrugation, and other indicators of the unpaved roads conditions. With the help of the South Dakota DOT and Local Technical Assistance Program, an in-depth technology demonstration was recently completed. Mr. Brooks will discuss the readiness of these remote sensing capabilities to move from the development and demonstration phase into an extended outreach and implementation period.

Sponsored by: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology (OST-R), University Transportation Centers Program

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, findings and conclusions reflected in this presentation are the responsibility of the authors only and do not represent the official policy or position of the USDOT/OST-R, or any State or other entity.

For more information, contact Denise E. Dunn at

Last updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017