Assessing and Mapping of Road Surface Roughness based on GPS and Accelerometer Sensors on Bicycle-Mounted Smartphones

Sensors (Basel). 2018 Mar 19;18(3):914. doi: 10.3390/s18030914.


The surface roughness of roads is an essential road characteristic. Due to the employed carrying platforms (which are often cars), existing measuring methods can only be used for motorable roads. Until now, there has been no effective method for measuring the surface roughness of un-motorable roads, such as pedestrian and bicycle lanes. This hinders many applications related to pedestrians, cyclists and wheelchair users. In recognizing these research gaps, this paper proposes a method for measuring the surface roughness of pedestrian and bicycle lanes based on Global Positioning System (GPS) and accelerometer sensors on bicycle-mounted smartphones. We focus on the International Roughness Index (IRI), as it is the most widely used index for measuring road surface roughness. Specifically, we analyzed a computing model of road surface roughness, derived its parameters with GPS and accelerometers on bicycle-mounted smartphones, and proposed an algorithm to recognize potholes/humps on roads. As a proof of concept, we implemented the proposed method in a mobile application. Three experiments were designed to evaluate the proposed method. The results of the experiments show that the IRI values measured by the proposed method were strongly and positively correlated with those measured by professional instruments. Meanwhile, the proposed algorithm was able to recognize the potholes/humps that the bicycle passed. The proposed method is useful for measuring the surface roughness of roads that are not accessible for professional instruments, such as pedestrian and cycle lanes. This work enables us to further study the feasibility of crowdsourcing road surface roughness with bicycle-mounted smartphones.

Keywords: GPS; IRI; accelerometer; bicycle-mounted smartphone; road surface roughness.