The BiFi research project has analysed the roads’ bearing capacity in real time using Internet-connected post office vehicles and presented their status online. The final report from the three-year project shows that these roads have been kept open for traffic 50% longer than before, benefitting haulage contractors, local residents and the Swedish Transport Administration.
Heavy vehicles tend to cause severe wheel ruts on soft gravel roads during the spring thaw period. In an effort to reduce maintenance costs, some stretches of these roads in Sweden are currently closed to traffic during predetermined periods. This creates problems for e.g. forestry-related transports by often forcing drivers to take long detours that waste time and money and lead to an increased environmental impact. Local residents and municipal services are also affected.
With decisions based on better information about these roads’ bearing capacity, they could be kept open longer. This was the starting point for the Bifi (Bearing capacity information through vehicle intelligence) research project.
The BiFi project is an excellent example of how interested parties from diverse areas can act together to solve a concrete problem affecting many people. The smart aspect of this system, aside from its technology, is that it uses vehicles that already travel on these roads to take readings,
Bifi consists of a system that can forecast whether or not a road is useable. This solution has been developed by Semcon and Klimator and utilises vehicle-based vibration readings collected by some 50 post office vehicles, which are then combined with climatological and geological data. The compiled information is presented graphically in real time on a website where haulage contractors, local residents and the Swedish Transport Administration can keep track of the roads’ status.