University of Minnesota Driven to Discover
U of MNUniversity of Minnesota
Center for Transportation Studies


Detection of Road and Bridge Surface Conditions Using Time Domain Reflectometry and Dielectric Relaxation Spectroscopy

Part of the Fall 2011 Advanced Transportation Technologies Seminar Series.

Watch Video

Download Podcast from iTunes U

Download this video from iTunes U to your iTunes-compatible device or to subscribe to the entire Fall 2011 Advanced Transportation Technologies Seminar Series. Please note that you need to have iTunes installed on your computer to view the seminars.

About the Seminar

In this seminar, John Evans discussed a practical sensor technology to improve public safety through the remote sensing of snow and ice on bridge and road surfaces. A system based on such technology can provide real-time information about the surface condition of a roadway. This information could then trigger signage to alert motorists of unsafe conditions and/or notify maintenance personnel that deicing is needed.

Evans' approach uses time domain reflectometry (TDR) to acquire dielectric relaxation spectroscopy (DRS) data from low-cost passive sensors. TDR and DRS technology has been used in such disciplines as soil science and high-speed electronic data transfer and is a viable alternative for probing bridge or road surface conditions. Evans outlined the electronic hardware and software components necessary for this approach and explained the integration of the components into an overall system that can be deployed in remote locations.

Read seminar summary


John Evans is a professor of analytical chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Minnesota Duluth. His transportation-related research is focused on detecting water and ice on bridge structures and roadways.

More Information

Contact Shawn Haag, 612-625-5608 or