AI technology to detect road defects under trial

Nor Fuad (centre) presenting a memento to Ahmad Fuad at the MoU signing, while Nurul Nadhirah looks on.

THE Shah Alam City Council (MBSA), in a pilot project, is using artificial intelligence (AI) to comb the streets to find defects, potholes and sunken patches, aimed at addressing where road maintenance efforts are most needed.

It is an ongoing project with private firm Urban Explorer Sdn Bhd through the city council’s Engineering Department to detect deteriorated roads.

Using the technology, problem areas can be identified and data shared in 24 hours compared with the usual time of one week for MBSA’s employees to find out.

Mayor Dr Nor Fuad Abdul Hamid said street sweeping had been carried out since June 1 with the use of a 360-degree camera mounted on a car, to assist MBSA in detecting minor cracks, potholes, sunken patches and damaged asphalt.

“From Section 1 to 19, about 500km of roads have been swept with the cameras. The operation, which ended on Aug 30, would collect the data for immediate rectification works,” he said.

Nor Fuad added that the main aim was to respond to road issues quickly.

He was speaking after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the pilot project called Pavement-AI, Revolutionising Road Inspection and Maintenance System, with Urban Explorer chief executive officer Ahmad Fuad Hamzah at the Shah Alam Convention Centre in Section 13.

Also present at the MoU signing were Safwa Global Venture (M) Sdn Bhd, the road maintenance firm for various local authorities, and a partner firm, Tatweer Al-Muttahidah Saudi Arabia.

The pilot project is under the Science, Technology, and Innovation (Mosti) Ministry, which has awarded a RM1mil grant for the one-year pilot project through its National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS).

Mosti’s NTIS assistant project manager Nurul Nadhirah Abdullah said the innovation programme focused on research and development, combined with commercialisation and innovation.

“NTIS is a programme that allows researchers, innovators, startups and high-tech entrepreneurs to test their products, services, business models and delivery mechanisms in a live environment,” she said.

Nor Fuad added that the Pavement-AI application would help MBSA address complaints from the public received through the city council’s SisPAA portal.

“With the artificial intelligence software application, it is able to exactly pinpoint the location of the pothole complaint and escalate the issue based on severity and safety risk to council maintenance planners,” he said.

He added that the next phase of the project would depend on a review by MBSA where it would decide whether to go ahead with the AI platform.

“Use of AI for preventative road maintenance can slash costs for MBSA and reduce the reliance on time-consuming and costly road audits while also extending the lifespan of asphalt roads through timely intervention,” he said.

MBSA Engineering Department acting director Hanif Basree Abdul Rahman said keeping roads safe and in good condition were some of the biggest challenges for MBSA.

“With AI as the platform, it will help cut costs, accelerate maintenance and prioritise safety,” he added.

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