Roadwork gets techie: Drones, artificial intelligence creep into the road construction industry

High above the Balfour interchange on State Route 4 in Brentwood, a drone buzzes, its sensors keeping a close watch on the volumes of earth being moved to make way for a new highway bypass. In Pittsburg, a camera perched on the dash of car driving through city streets periodically snaps pictures of potholes and cracks in the pavement. And, at the corner of Harbor and School streets in the same city, another camera monitors pedestrians, cyclists and cars, where 13-year-old Jordyn Molton lost her life late last year after a truck struck her. Although the types of technology and their goals differ, all three first-of-their-kind projects in Contra Costa County aim to offer improvements to the road construction and maintenance industry, which has lagged significantly behind other sectors when it comes to adopting new technology. Lack of investment stifled innovation, said John Bly, the vice president of the Northern California Engineering Contractors Association. But, with the recent passage of SB1, a gas tax and transportation infrastructure funding bill, that’s all set to change, he said. RoadBotics CEO Mark DeSantis, drives the streets of Pittsburg, Calif., on Friday, July 14, 2017. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)  “You may see some of…


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