A Review of Three-Dimensional Imaging Technologies for Pavement Distress Detection and Measurements

Senthan Mathavan, Mujib Rahman, Khurram Kamal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the ever-increasing emphasis on maintaining road assets to a high standard, the need for fast accurate inspection for road distresses is becoming extremely important. Surface distresses on roads are essentially three dimensional (3-D) in nature. Automated visual surveys are the best option available. However, the imaging conditions, in terms of lighting, etc., are very random. For example, the challenge of measuring the volume of the pothole requires a large field of view with a reasonable spatial resolution, whereas microtexture evaluation requires very accurate imaging. Within the two extremes, there is a range of situations that require 3-D imaging. Three-dimensional imaging consists of a number of techniques such as interferometry and depth from focus. Out of these, laser imagers are mainly used for road surface distress inspection. Many other techniques are relatively unknown among the transportation community, and industrial products are rare. The main impetus for this paper is derived from the rarity of 3-D industrial imagers that employ alternative techniques for use in transportation. In addition, the need for this work is also highlighted by a lack of literature that evaluates the relative merits/demerits of various imaging methods for different distress measurement situations in relation to pavements. This overview will create awareness of available 3-D imaging methods in order to help make a fast initial technology selection and deployment. The review is expected to be helpful for researchers, practicing engineers, and decision makers in transportation engineering.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2353 - 2362
JournalIEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems
Issue number5
Early online date12 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


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