Ride Quality Assessment Using Probe Vehicle Acceleration Measurements
Flintsch, Gerardo W.
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New vehicle technology is leading to efficient methods for assessing the condition of the national highway system. Utilizing simple sensors installed in vehicles, such as accelerometers, could provide a cost effective way to assess ride quality for pavement management. This paper builds on a pilot study that compared data gathered from accelerometers to the current state of the art practices for measuring ride quality. After promising results with preliminary acceleration data, robust data collection was performed on the Virginia Smart Road under various operational conditions and using two vehicles: a Volvo truck and a Ford Fusion using the DAS system developed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Profile measurements were also obtained for comparison using an inertial laser profiler. Tests were performed at 40, 50, and 65 mph (65, 80, and 105 km/h). A GPS device was used to accurately calculate vehicle position and speed. Repeatability of acceleration and profile measurements were calculated. Effect of vehicle type and testing speed on the acceleration profile was estimated. Results show that under controlled testing conditions, roadway roughness can be accurately estimated using probe vehicle acceleration data. This suggests that instrumented probe vehicles might be a viable and effective way of implementing a pavement condition assessment program in the near future.