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Ahmedabad : At first sight, one can mistake this vehicle to be an ultra tech robotic remote-controlled vehicle, but it is the country’s first ‘Hawk Eye’ that is surveying almost 50,000 kilometres of country’s highways and roads to gauge their quality and see if they are fit for freight movement and travel. The database will be used to create GIS maps of highways in the country. The project is being undertaken by Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) and GIS survey and global positioning system (GPS) will help better navigation across the country.

Mounted on a jeep, the Hawk Eye’s instrumentation system includes a laser profiler along with pavement view cameras to measure road surface, collect and process digital images of pavements and other roadside elements. The vehicle has been used in countries like China, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. Hawk Eye requires high-speed paved roads for operation and is sensitive to rough weather conditions like dust storms and heavy rains. It can gather data while travelling at a speed of 30 to 100 km per hour.

An advantage Hawk Eye enjoys over other instruments with CRRI is its ability to look at the surface of the road and measure cracking areas. Any area with a crack of above three centimetres is detected by the vehicle’s sensors and a preventive measure is suggested by the computers. This helps improve life of highways, which is normally around 20 years in the case of bitumen roads.