High-tech Paver Keeps City Traffic on a Roll

Though the flying car is a recurring symbol of the future, research done in the real world suggests that roads will remain a big part of our daily lives and, if anything, our dependency on them will only increase.

Ironically, while the design of the vehicles we drive has come a long way, the machines, materials and processes we use to construct and maintain roads haven’t changed significantly since the 1940s. Since only one basic configuration of paver exists today, road maintenance has to be done using machines that were originally constructed for paving new road surfaces.

This has caused road maintenance to develop into a complex and energy intensive process. It requires multiple machines and interferes with traffic in the city every time street maintenance is performed.

Because maintaining the streets generally requires shutting traffic down, there is constant pressure on road agencies to delay minor repairs until the pavement condition becomes so bad that the road needs to be torn out completely and repaved using new materials.

A Hot Concept

Efforts are under way, however, to develop a whole new concept in road repair. The Dynapac Red Carpet is an environmentally conscious solution for road maintenance in future megacities, where street traffic is predicted to become increasingly dense and unstoppable. This futuristic road recycling paver allows inner city traffic to continue its flow without interruptions by letting vehicles drive over it while paving.

The concept machine utilizes an existing process known as hot-in-place recycling. The front of the machine contains a large microwave heater, which heats the stones that compose the upper road layer. They in turn heat the asphalt binder, returning the pavement to its original soft state. Mechanical brushes then remove the soft asphalt and scoop it into a large mixing tank, where it is mixed with a small amount of fresh binder and paved back onto the road using a screed. A set of rollers at the back of the machine compact the new pavement.

The slow movement of the machine ensures the recycled pavement is ready for immediate use by oncoming traffic. While road work is being performed, traffic can flow uninterrupted over the machine’s integrated ramp.

The paver is powered by electrohydraulic engines housed in the wheel hubs. Refilling of the binder is performed via a quick refill hatch in the right console of the vehicle.

The Red Carpet project was developed in close collaboration with Dynapac, a global manufacturer of road paving equipment, and with constant feedback from NCC Roads, one of the largest construction companies in the Scandinavian region of Europe. Work processes included multiple field trips, on-site observations, mock-ups and interviews with road engineers, road workers, operators and manufacturers of paving machines in Sweden and Germany.

This project looks forward to the development of large megacities, and aims to create an alternative, low energy and more environmentally conscious concept for maintaining the transport arteries in urban areas. ET