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Road pavements & bridge deck health monitoring/early warning using advanced inspection technologies

European Union
Project website
Project Acronym
RPB HealTec
STRIA Roadmaps
Infrastructure (INF)
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

The European Road Network is undoubtedly one of the most important land infrastructures in the EU. It is and will remain for the foreseeable future a crucial artery for Europe, both in economic terms, as it services the vast majority of goods traffic, and in social terms, as it does so for passenger travel as well. Maintenance is considered to be the most expensive function of a highway operating agency. There is therefore a need to detect deterioration and defects at an early stage through a more advanced road pavements inspection technology.


The RPB HealTec (road pavements and bridge deck health monitoring) system is aiming to upgrade and optimise the inspection & maintenance of European roads, reducing costs and increasing traffic safety. It will achieve this by developing a novel automated and integrated NDT (Non Destructive Techniques) system for high speed analysis and evaluation. It will demonstrate the value of combining three technologies: Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR),

InfraRed Thermography (IRT) and Air Coupled Ultrasonic (ACU) testing with Near Real-Time data transfer and analysis as a reliable, fast and safe tool for pavement inspections, as well as a great business opportunity for SME participants in EU.

The proposed system incorporates and drastically enhances the capacities of the three different techniques, to produce quantitative, reliable, precise, continuous and at-traffic-speed measurements.

The project’s key research and innovation outcomes will be to obtain a GPR capable of detecting adjacent layers of the same materials at traffic speed, quantitative and high speed image capturing Thermography, continuous ACU at traffic speed and a 100% coverage measurement tool.


NDT assessment techniques such as GPR, IRT and ACU testing have the ability to inspect effectively substantial areas, such as pavements and concrete. These NDT techniques will be used successfully in the detection of cracks, voids and other imperfections appearing either from the ageing of the materials or due to poor workmanship.

  • IRT directly senses the infrared radiation that a material or structure emits and detects surface temperature differences. Investigation of pavements by the means of IRT is achievable, in view of the fact that subsurface defects in a material affect the heat flow through that material, triggering surface temperature differences. So, the method is ideal for measuring segregation in asphalt pavements.
  • GPR provides information concerning the underlay structure of the examined pavements, layer thickness, as well as the depth and thickness of cracks, voids or other imperfections, such as moisture problems, appearing on the pavements.
  • ACU is mainly applied for sensitive inspections for defects such as voids, cracks and dis-bonds, for the identification of the thickness of pavements, the identification of complex modulus of elasticity of pavements, the non-destructive testing of bridge decks and the non-destructive testing of tunnels.
  • Computational intelligence and multi-modal data fusion will play a key-role in RPBHealTec project acting as the integrator of the different NDT techniques.

This new concept will improve the monitoring conditions, both, in time and accuracy, and therefore decrease the operating costs by reducing unnecessary maintenance of pavements and/or bridge decks, and most of all planning the maintenance just in time. This will provide the following benefits:

  • Optimisation of maintenance procedures thus increasing the average life of a pavement and/or bridge deck.
  • Improvements in the calculation methods that will be implemented for new pavement design and analysis.
  • Reduction of at least 0.1% on future pavement construction and maintenance costs, translating to savings of EUR 60 million in the EU27 within the first six years after completion.


Other Programme


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


Technology Theme
Sensor technologies
Ground Penetrating Radar
Development phase
Demonstration/prototyping/Pilot Production
Technology Theme
Sensor technologies
InfraRed Thermography
Development phase
Demonstration/prototyping/Pilot Production
Technology Theme
Sensor technologies
Air-Coupled Ultrasonic testing
Development phase
Demonstration/prototyping/Pilot Production

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