Toward Autonomous and Robotic Infrastructure Construction: A Workshop and Field Studies of Productivity, Quality, and Safety Impacts

Project status


Start date: 07/01/14
End date: 06/30/16


Principal investigators:

About the research

Constructing long-lasting roadway infrastructure requires careful process control. It is well known in industry that an in situ manufacturing process governed solely by human operators introduces inefficiencies, variable quality results, and site safety risks. Autonomous and robotic controls of the road building process have great potential to reduce these problems. Unfortunately, roadway construction has virtually no theory established for process control. What is called for is an academic-industry partnership to study and analyze the impacts of productivity, quality, and safety for roadway construction that can quantify and prioritize the formulation of a process control theory to address this need.
This project funds three important efforts:
(1) A nationwide stakeholder conference to identify gaps and opportunities for autonomous and robotics roadway construction technologies
(2) Selected field studies focused on earthwork and excavation technologies
(3) A technology transfer program to improve understanding and beneficial implementation
The results of this study are directly related to the State of Good Repair, a key program under MAP-21, and the Midwest Transportation Center (MTC) focus area of project construction, because autonomous and robotic systems impact productivity, quality, and safety of roadway infrastructure.


Report: Earthwork Haul-Truck Cycle-Time Monitoring - A Case Study Final Report (9.93 mb pdf) April 2016

Related publications:



  • Caterpillar
  • Iowa State University
Image: Contractor using CAT D8T bulldozer on case study site
CAT D8T bulldozer monitored on site for case study
Image: Contractor using CAT 375 hydraulic excavator and CAT 740 B truck on case study site
CAT 375 hydraulic excavator and CAT 740 B truck monitored on site for case study
Image: Contractor using Volvo A40F truck on case study site
Volvo A40F truck monitored on site for case study