Modelling and design concepts for digital roads

Background and motivation

The potentials of “Smart City” concepts have been reflected in many sectors of society, and these concepts are continuously being implemented in civil engineering as means of addressing the rising challenges of urbanization and climate change. Smart city concepts encompass technical, environmental, economic, and social innovations, aiming to render cities more sustainable, environmentally friendly, and socially inclusive. Smart city concepts have increasingly been applied to digitalize civil infrastructure in the form of digital roads. Digital roads leverage cloud-based and IoT-based applications and utilize smart sensor networks with structural, environmental, vehicular, and traffic data, in an attempt to generate, analyze, and store information about civil infrastructure. The comprehensive information generated by digital roads is provided to authorities, companies, and citizens in real time to facilitate planning of infrastructure maintenance, to advance decision-making processes, and to improve the quality of life. However, the information cannot systematically be used in engineering applications because current modeling and design concepts do not meet the requirements of digital roads..

Objectives and expected results

The research project aims to create a basis for making full use of the information generated by the digital road. A methodology is to be developed to record the stresses caused by traffic loads in the form of time-dependent probability distributions in a sensor-based manner and to include them in forecasts of material fatigue based on probabilistic concepts. As a continuation project, the research project builds on the DFG project "Semi-probabilistic, sensor-based design concepts for intelligent structural systems" , in which the implications of the additional, sensor-based structure information of intelligent structures (i) on design concepts in civil engineering and (ii) on design concepts for monitoring systems for intelligent structures were investigated. The methods developed in these studies are now to be applied to the digital road. For this purpose, the digital road will be described mathematically and the sensor concept for traffic load detection on bridge structures developed by the applicants in the research group "The Digital Road"will be linked to the sensor-based Bayesian model updating approach of the predecessor project, thus reducing uncertainties in load identification. Due to the realistic representation of the load-bearing behavior in the structural model, local effects that are of particular importance in connection with the fatigue of structural details can be identified and described in terms of design more accurately than by previous approaches. Finally, the generally applicable methodology is provided in engineering terms - with a focus on road bridges - and simulated and validated as a "digital twin road".



Sensorgestützte Approximation der Verkehrseinwirkung

Project Partner:

  • Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Chair of Steel and Hybrid Construction
  • Hamburg University of Technology, Institute of Digital and Autonomous Construction (Link)

Project Type:
German Research Institute (DFG): Individual Research Grants
Applicants:  Prof. Kraus, Prof. Smarsly

Funding period:
2023 - 2026