There are over 164,000 miles of highways in the National Highway System, and every single inch of this network needs to be periodically inspected for maintenance and repairs.
Volvo Trucks has teamed up with researchers at Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute to design a truck that can test more miles of road more efficiently than any of its predecessors.
Known as SCRIM, the Sideway-force Coefficient Routine Investigation Machine, is a modified Volvo VHD 430 vocational model outfitted with highly specialised instrumentation. It’s 2,000-gallon tank gives SCRIM the ability to test 150 miles of highway without refilling.
“The SCRIM uses a special tire to analyse road friction continuously, without locking the tire as other testers do,” said Edgar de León Izeppi, senior research associate for VTTI’s Center for Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure, in a press release.
“This feature is important because continuous application gives a complete friction profile of the pavement surface and additionally simulates today’s anti-lock braking systems better than a locked-wheel skid tester,” he continued.
Short of taking a car out on a wet road and sliding around, testing how well tires can grip a particular road isn’t easy. After spraying water on the road, the special wheel inside SCRIM can test just how much tires will slip and slide across the asphalt.
In addition to friction, other data points SCRIM scrubs includes cross-slope, macro-texture, grade, temperature and curvature — all very important information for engineers and traffic planners.
SCRIM had to be shipped all the way to the United Kingdom in order to be outfitted with the testing implements, a process that took months, Volvo says. But now, the truck is ready to hit the road.
Data collection begins this month in Florida and will include testing of highways in Washington, Indiana and Texas.