Within the framework of this research area, we are producing new information, above all, on the mechanical performance of road structures under the influence of loads caused by both heavy vehicles and the climate. In the studies, the performance of road structures is modelled e.g. using the Finite Element Method, and monitoring measurements of different levels of existing road structures are used to verify the modelling. Alongside these, the properties of road structural materials are determined using a wide range of laboratory investigation methods. In the inventory of the condition of structures at the road network level, we strive to utilise the most up-to-date methods for measuring both the functional and structural conditions of structures together with our partners.
On the one hand, the need for research is due to the significant increase in the loading impact caused by heavy vehicles – especially in Finland as a result of the new vehicle regulation that entered into force in 2013. With the introduction of autonomous vehicles, the loading impact of heavy vehicles is in danger of increasing further. On the other hand, the resources available for road maintenance will continue to be scarce, which is why the only possible way of managing the maintenance backlog that has already arisen and is constantly increasing is through the introduction of new practices taking use of modern digital technologies, above all proactive maintenance.
The core of the research area consists of a series of research projects commissioned by the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, FTIA, (formerly the Finnish Transport Agency) from 2013 onwards. In connection with these investigations, loading tests with heavy trucks have been carried out on a total of six different road sites, as well as extensive structural instrumentation of two road sections as part of the Aurora project, a test platform for intelligent traffic solutions in northern conditions coordinated by the FTIA. Roadscanners Oy has been a key partner in the implementation of all these projects. Additional international funding for research related to the topic is currently being sought together with several foreign partners.