With millions of miles of highways to maintain in the U.S., rapid assessment of pavement conditions has been a goal of researchers for years. New equipment is designed to make it easier.

An automated pavement surface distress data collection vehicle introduced last month uses digital technology to scan and analyze surface conditions in lanes up to 14 ft wide at highway speeds, says Jerry Daleiden, operations manager for Fugro-BRE Inc., the pavement division of Fugro, an international geotechnical firm with U.S. headquarters in Houston.

"What most have been using is a video camera, which somewhat restricts the speed, but more importantly somewhat restricts the analysis," Daleiden says. "With the digital technology, you can see the anomalies and interpret them as patterns." Information is at www.bre.fugro.com.