Paving the roads of tomorrow

September 9, 2015

In the future, how will the gridlocked streets of megacities be repaired? Industrial designer Gosha Galitsky has a solution.

Paver of the future

Cities with populations of more than 10 million people – megacities – deal with heavy traffic issues daily. But when there is road construction, entire arteries can come to a complete standstill causing longer trip times and severe air pollution from idling cars.

Solving these problems will become even more important as increasing numbers of people move to urban centers. Industrial designer Gosha Galitsky, in close collaboration with Dynapac and with input from NCC Roads, has come up with an attractive and innovative solution to these looming challenges – the Red Carpet. It’s an electric-powered paver that can repair asphalt roads on the move without disrupting traffic: cars simply drive over the new repairs while Hot-in-Place recycling takes place underneath.

“I wanted to see how we could repair megacity streets without causing a significant disruption to traffic,” says Galitsky, who did the project for his Master’s degree in Advanced Product Design at the University of Umeå in Sweden. “I started by doing in-depth research into how these processes are done today, what impact the processes have on the environment and how they can be done better.”

One glaring problem with road repair in bustling cities is that the paving process requires vast amounts of resources and energy. “Repairing roads requires a lot of material,” says Galitsky. “The material needs to be heated and then transported hot to the work site, so there is a limit to how far the truck can travel. Also there are a multitude of machines involved in the process, and it involves a lot of energy, so this process is not compatible with a megacity. Road repairs can be very painful for the city and its residents.”

“The Red Carpet concept solves these issues, and while futuristic and highly innovative, the idea behind it is also pretty straightforward. “This was actually one of the first solutions we came up with,” says Galitsky. “Why not just make the traffic drive over the worksite? It is a simple idea, but actually making that a reality, or even just a conceptual reality, took a lot of work.”

The front of the machine contains a large microwave heater that heats the stones of the upper road layer. They, in turn, heat the asphalt binder that holds the road together, returning the pavement to its original soft state. Mechanical brushes then remove the asphalt, which goes into a large tank. The asphalt is mixed with a small amount of fresh binder and paved back onto the road using a ‘screed’ device used in modern pavers. Then rollers at the back of the machine compact the new pavement. The machine travels at just a few kilometers per hour, so the pavement it leaves behind is ready for immediate use. The Red Carpet is quiet and easily refilled: a van with fresh binder simply drives up to it and deposits its load.

Tests have shown that drivers would be able to negotiate the machine at speeds of up to 30 kilometers per hour. “An indicator system with arrows displays your alignment, and all the approach and departure angles from the paver have been calculated,” Galitsky says. “So it’s no less safe than driving over a speed bump.”

Another advantage of the Red Carpet is that it would not require a crew. “It was conceived to be autonomous or remotely operated,” says Galitsky. “So it could theoretically work 24/7. It is just a question of getting a continuous supply of binder and energy to the machine.”

The Dynapac Red Carpet is currently at the concept stage, and there are still a number of technical challenges to address before it can become a reality. “I think that if such a machine could be produced, it would take a few years and it would probably look different than my concept,” says Galitsky. But he says he would be satisfied even if only a few core ideas from his concept eventually see the light of day.

“Take the overall user experience and the typically negative reaction drivers have when they see a paver; if we could change that perception, while also reducing the amount of energy used and improving the environmental performance of these machines – and increasing the overall productivity – then I would be very happy.”

“Why not just make the traffic drive over the work site?”

Gosha Galitsky, Industrial Engineer

What advantages does Dynapac see in the Red Carpet concept?

The Red Carpet is based on the real concerns of the industry and presents a vision to meet the paving demands in our future cities. We started the project by considering what is expected to change in the city transport landscape and also considered changing trends in the paving business in general.

How would Dynapac’s customers get return-on-investment from such a machine?

The main challenge our customers face while working in cities is high traffic density, which allows limited time for working with high costs for closures. Then getting the hot asphalt mix from mixing plants located around the city to the worksite is a big task. There is also a growing challenge regarding the availability of stone and the rising cost of bitumen, which is an oil-based product. All these issues have resulted in discussions on various techniques of re-using the material to reduce fresh demand for hot asphalt mix.

What challenges must be overcome for the Red Carpet to begin repairing roads in the future?

The major challenge of this concept would be handling the energy demand to operate a system that can help heat up the bitumen efficiently as well as provide the power needed to drive the milling and paving unit in this compact design. There is also a lot of discussion on alternative materials, which may change the energy demands on this concept in future.

Written by David Wiles

Pavers China Dynapac Asia Energy efficiency Value creation Construction