A StreetScan a Day keeps the Potholes Away

Blown tires. Bent rims. Spilt coffee. Alignment thrown off. Car in the shop. Dry cleaners. Lost time. Who doesn’t love potholes.

Fortunately, some of life’s complications can be rectified, or at least mitigated.

The solution for infuriating road conditions: StreetScan.

StreetScan is a multidimensional, rapid-sensor technology system that is revolutionizing roadway inspection. Through StreetScan’s pioneering system, municipal resources are utilized with greater efficiency and effectiveness, which translates into drivers saving time and money and stress.

Will JaksaMost road inspections are conducted visually (a process requiring extensive lane closures, man-hours, and traffic congestion), the results of which are unsystematic and fragmentary thereby leaving transportation officials to make highly subjective decisions about the allocation of scarce resources.

The advent of StreetScan has fundamentally changed the process and outcome of road inspection. In terms of process advancements, StreetScan enables inspection to occur with the flow of traffic by retrofitting vehicles with sensors. This, in itself, represents a significant saving of time and money while also enhancing safety.

Additionally, through a compound system of sensors, StreetScan collects multifaceted data objectively. The sensor suite consists of: 1) acoustic and dynamic tire pressure sensors measuring surface texture and roughness; 2) video footage capturing surface defects used for analyzing crack type and severity; 3) millimeter-wave surface radar arrays generating road profiles and surface maps while also charting rutting depths; and, 4) ground penetrating radar arrays that disclose subsurface conditions, e.g., pavement layers, rebar corrosion, and delamination of bridge decks. This massive infusion of data is then synthesized, time stamped, and geo-located.  

Through PAVEMON, a proprietary web-based system that leverages an Oracle database management system, StreetScan empowers transportation officials by giving them a dynamic dashboard displaying objective information about current road conditions and projections of future conditions derived from statistical modeling. These readouts provide decision makers with value-infused, qualitative data thereby enabling resources to be directed toward the most critical infrastructural needs.

The intellectual property undergirding StreetScan finds its origin at Northeastern. Being committed to applicable research, Northeastern responded to a call from the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), Technology Innovation Program (TIP) to address pressing societal needs, the results of which culminated in a vetted prototype that was deployed in the City of Beverly in 2014 and 2015 with impressive results.   


The impetus leading to the founding of StreetScan came after the extreme winter that buried the Northeast in 2014-2015. Bolstered by press coverage that Northeastern received around the $18 million, 5 year NIST project and by engineering reports highlighting the rapidly eroding condition of America’s infrastructure (i.e., finding 1.3 million miles of US roadway are in poor or mediocre condition costing motorists $67 billion in unexpected repairs alongside $101 billion in fuel and time consumed by congestion),* inventors Ming Wang, Ralf Birken, and Gunar Schirner recruited co-founder and CEO Peter Ogren to successfully commercialize this revolutionary solution.

StreetScan has boldly stepped into the disjointed landscape of road inspection technologies. Most local and state bodies conducting inspections do so manually with in-house inspectors. Companies like Pavia Systems have developed apps (e.g., HeadLight) that assist inspectors in recording their findings more efficiently, but have not considered revamping the manner in which inspections are undertaken. Competitors (such as the Canadian based Pavemetrics) who have attempted vanguard approaches employ laser systems to produce 2/3D imaging, but tend to be cost-prohibitive for many transportation agencies. StreetScan edges out the competition by delivering superior data, forecasting, and affordability.

Since inception, StreetScan has experienced steadily increasing demand for its effectual services. In 2015, StreetScan was selected as a finalist for MassChallenge, a program that has accelerated 835 startups that have raised over a billion in venture funding, earned $575 million in revenue, and generated 8,500 jobs over the past 7 years. Additionally, StreetScan was invited to participate in TiE ScaleUp, an accelerator program providing strategic mentoring to ventures in possession of seed funding. With such expert resources and expanding clientele, StreetScan is positioned to scale robustly.  

Pavement inspection and management services, however, are just the first of many diagnostics and predictive services StreetScan seeks to develop in its quest to reverse the trend of crumbling transportation infrastructures. Over the next 10 years and beyond, StreetScan expects to establish a global presence, becoming a leader, not only in pavement inspection and management, but also in other mobile and stationary sensing applications such as in-traffic bridge deck inspection and monitoring, 3D subsurface utility mapping, and above ground asset management.

In the decades to come, it’s easy to imagine a conversation between a grandfather and his young grandson going something like this: “Back when I was your age, we used to have potholes the size of craters! They were so big you could barely squeeze your car by without going off the road. Traffic would be backed up for miles and miles! It would take half the day just to get to work.” And, with eyes full of suspicious curiosity, the young boy queries, “Grandpa, what’s a pothole?” … Grandpa chuckles, and muses, “Technology certainly has changed the surface of the earth.”


Interested in saving your municipality money? Contact StreetScan for more information.

Find out about two more Northeastern spinouts, QSM Diagnostics and Therapeutic Innovations, in “Northeastern Shines on Entrepreneurial Draft Day.


*American Society of Engineering, “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure (2013).”

Cover photo by uncerveza. All Rights Reserved.

Body photos by Will Jaksa and _chrisUK. All Rights Reserved.

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