, Former Associate Professor, UMD-Mechanical & Industrial Eng
This project explored a new approach for detecting vehicles on a roadway by making a roadway section itself a traffic flow detector. Sections of a given roadway were paved with carbon-nanotube (CNT)/cement composites; the piezoresitive property of carbon nanotubes enables the composite to detect the traffic flow. Meanwhile, CNTs can also work as reinforcement elements to improve the strength and toughness of concrete pavement. In contrast to current traffic flow detection technologies that require separate devices to be installed either in the pavement or over the road, the proposed sensing approach enables the pavement itself to detect traffic flow parameters. Therefore, the proposed sensor is expected to have a long service life with little maintenance and wide-area detection capability. Lab tests have indicated the strong piezoresistive response of CNT/cement composites, and preliminary road tests have shown promising results of traffic detection.