State departments of transportation (DOTs) inspectors play a critical role in overseeing and managing a construction project. They rely on innovative technologies to address the increasing demand to perform their responsibilities in a safe and efficient way. The adoption of mobile devices and modern surveying equipment for construction inspection has proven timely and beneficial. Remote virtual inspection (RVI) offers numerous benefits (e.g., improved data quality and consistency, enhanced communication, improved transparency, and improved safety of the site personnel) to support onsite construction inspection activities and collect digital data for state DOTs contract administration processes, such estimation of quantities, verification and acceptance, payment, and creation of as-built records.
Research is needed to investigate digital technologies and systems for RVI activities and to bridge the knowledge gap for state DOTs in evaluating and integrating digital technologies and systems for RVI for remote highway construction infrastructure projects.
The objective of this research is to develop a guide for the applications of digital technologies and systems for RVI for highway construction infrastructure project. At a minimum, the research shall include readiness assessment of digital technologies and systems for highway construction projects and implementation requirements.
The research plan should (1) include a kick-off teleconference with the research team and NCHRP convened within 1 month of the contract’s execution; (2) address how the proposer intends to satisfy the project objectives; (3) be divided logically into detailed tasks necessary to fulfill the research objective and include appropriate milestones and interim deliverables; and (4) incorporate opportunities for the project panel to review, comment on, and approve milestone deliverables.
Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.
PHASE I — Planning
Task 1. Conduct a literature review of relevant research and current state-of-practice related to digital technologies and systems for RVI for highway construction infrastructure projects. The review shall include published and unpublished research conducted through the NCHRP; Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); and other national, international, state, and pooled-fund sponsored research.
Task 2. Conduct a survey of state DOTs and relevant stakeholders to identify current state-of-practice and trends in digital technologies and systems for RVI for highway construction infrastructure projects. Collect data needed to achieve the research objective with consideration of the maturity of applications of digital technologies and systems for RVI.
Task 3. Synthesize the results of Tasks 1 and 2 to identify the knowledge gaps for evaluating and integrating applications of digital technologies and systems for RVI for highway construction infrastructure projects. These gaps should be addressed in this research or in the recommended future research as budget permits.
Task 4. Propose a methodology for readiness assessment of digital technologies and systems for RVI for highway construction infrastructure projects to be fully developed in Phase II.
At a minimum, the methodology will include the following steps:
Identify the activities and elements of highway construction infrastructure projects that can utilize digital technologies and systems for RVI;
Identify current and emerging digital technologies and systems (e.g., artificial intelligence (AI), light detection and ranging (LiDAR), machine learning algorithms, small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS)), and remote imaging (e.g., augmented reality, virtual reality, closed-circuit television (CCTV));
Evaluate potential applications of current and emerging digital technologies and systems, and remote imaging;
Evaluate implementation strategies of 3D model-based design and deployment of automated machine guidance (AMG) for performing various activities in highway construction infrastructure projects including earthwork, grading, paving, and structural elements;
Identify the advantages and disadvantages of digital technologies and systems for each application;
Evaluate the readiness of the identified technologies and systems to be implemented by DOTs; and
Identify potential implementation requirements, strategies, and challenges related to technological, system hardware and software interoperability, policy, procedures, training programs, and legal aspects.
Task 5. Propose a preliminary outline for the guide based on the proposed methodology.
Task 6. Prepare Interim Report No. 1 that documents Tasks 1 through 5 and provides an updated work plan for the remainder of the research. This report should include a webinar presentation to demonstrate examples of the capabilities of digital technologies and systems with corresponding RVI activities assessed from Task 4. This report must be submitted to NCHRP no later than 6 months after contract execution. The updated work plan must describe the process and rationale for the work proposed for Phases II though IV.
PHASE II — Methodology Development
Task 7. Develop the methodology according to the approved Interim Report No.1.
Task 8. Develop examples to demonstrate the developed methodology. The selection of the examples should include at a minimum the identified digital technologies and systems in Phase I and should include at a minimum four to eight representative case studies of construction projects on different infrastructure types/projects that have demonstrated successful integration of digital technologies and systems for RVI.
Task 9. Provide a detailed description of every chapter and section of the proposed guide and complete a sample chapter that is publication-ready of the proposed guide selected by NCHRP. The guide should include a proposed implementation plan for state DOTs to integrate digital technologies and systems to support RVI.
Task 10. Prepare Interim Report No. 2 that documents the results of Tasks 7 through 9 and provides an updated work plan for the remainder of the project. This report is due no later than 8 months after approval of Phase I. The updated plan must describe the work proposed for Phases III and IV.
PHASE III — Guide Development
Task 11. Develop the guide according to the approved Interim Report No. 2.
Task 12. After NCHRP approval of the draft guide, plan and conduct workshop with 20 representatives of DOTs and other stakeholders to review the draft guide and implementation plan. Revise the draft guide according to the outcomes of the workshop. The invited representatives shall be approved by NCHRP.
Task 13. Prepare Interim Report No. 3 that documents the results of Tasks 11 and 12 no later than 8 months after approval of Phase II. The updated work plan must describe the work proposed for Phase IV.
PHASE IV — Final Products
Task 14. Revise the draft guide and workshop materials considering the NCHRP’s review comments.
Task 15. Prepare a final deliverable that documents the entire research effort. Final deliverables should include, at a minimum (1) a research report documenting the work performed and used to develop the guide, (2) the guide as a stand-alone document, (3) presentation material, and (4) technical memorandum on implementation.