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Automated and robotics-based techniques. New solutions for road construction and maintenance

European Union
Complete with results
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Infrastructure (INF)
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues


Background & Policy context

The preservation of the road network at a high quality level is of great importance in the efforts towards integration of the European Union. The existing road network faces a number of problems, namely ageing, increased demand, and increased truck traffic. These problems are aggravated by recent economic trends and developments, which require tighter budgets to be spent on infrastructure. As a consequence, new techniques are sought to reduce costs without adversely affecting other performance criteria, such as efficiency, safety, and quality. Innovative techniques based on automation could bring about improvements at all Road Infrastructure Construction and Maintenance (RICM) stages and all work levels.


The ART project explored the potential for introducing innovative automated and robotics-based technology in RICM at the operations level, supporting a two-fold objective:

  • to reduce the execution cost of RICM operations, at the same time improving, or at least without adversely affecting, the conditions of safety, work quality, road user cost and non-road user cost;
  • to improve the working conditions taking into consideration the losses in the number of jobs that the innovations may cause


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission; Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN; formerly DG VII)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


Based on the experience of road administrators, constructors and designers, ART identified 29 RICM operations that could benefit from the introduction of automated or fully robotic technologies, making this selection from a long list covering almost all the RICM operations. The short list was produced based on the frequency of different operations and the budget allocated to them.


The project provided a first estimate of the feasibility of automating the RICM operations with a general description of the functions and key features with which the RICM machines could be equipped. All appropriate technological systems for automation were indicated, namely positioning systems (GPS technology using differential and RTK/OTF techniques, laser-based systems), robotic systems (tools, sensors, communication machines, computer equipment and software systems) and CAD systems.

The expected benefits to and negative impacts on RICM operations resulting from the introduction of the potential technological innovations were assessed qualitatively. The assessment criteria included: execution costs, traffic safety, working conditions, socio-political concerns, quality, traffic disturbance, and environmental impacts. A separate assessment was made for several target groups (road authorities, road constructors, labour force, road users, population adjacent to the work zone) for each individual operation.

Policy implications

ART techniques and technology have the potential to reduce the time required for RICM operations by 30-50% as well as the physical space required for such operations. The consequences of this are: a) reduced execution costs, b) reduced environmental impact, c) reduced accidents, and d) reduced delays to users. This will give road administrators the opportunity to allocate the limited funds available more efficiently, ensuring a better maintained and safer existing road network and increased efficiency in the construction of new road-related infrastructure. Considerable gains are expected to come from the operations composed of a great number of repetitive tasks, where an intelligent machine may be more efficient.

ART's benefits are not confined only to road administrators. Road constructors could benefit from the lower costs and the faster execution of the operations, in addition to the decrease in working accidents. The road users and non-road users could experience benefits varying according to the traffic circumstances that prevail around the work site. The impacts on the labour force are controversial. On the one hand, a significant improvement in working conditions is expected, since machines could replace workers in unhealthy and dangerous environments. In addition, the number of potential accidents (between workers and RICM machines, or vehicles of the general traffic moving adjacent to the work site) could be significantly reduced. On the other hand, a serious loss of existing jobs is the consequence of adopting ART, especially as far as non-specialised jobs are concerned.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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