Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Ziqi Song


Ziqi Song


Anthony Chen


Joseph A. Caliendo


Highway assets, including traffic signs, traffic signals, light poles, and guardrails, are important components of transportation networks. They guide, warn and protect drivers, and regulate traffic. To manage and maintain the regular operation of the highway system, state departments of transportation (DOTs) need reliable and up-to-date information about the location and condition of highway assets. Different methodologies have been employed to collect road inventory data.

Currently, ground-based technologies are widely used to help DOTs to continually update their road database, while air-based methods are not commonly used. One possible reason is that the initial investment for air-based methods is relatively high; another is the lack of a systematic and effective approach to extract road features from raw airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data and aerial image data. However, for large-area inventories (e.g., a whole state highway inventory), the total cost of using aerial mapping is actually much lower than other methods considering the time and personnel needed. Moreover, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are easily accessible and inexpensive, which makes it possible to reduce costs for aerial mapping. The focus of this project is to analyze the capability and strengths of airborne data collection system in highway inventory data collection.

In this research, a field experiment was conducted by the Remote Sensing Service Laboratory (RSSL), Utah State University (USU), to collect airborne data. Two kinds of methodologies were proposed for data processing, namely ArcGIS-based algorithm for airborne LiDAR data, and MATLAB-based procedure for aerial photography. The results proved the feasibility and high efficiency of airborne data collection method for updating highway inventory database.