Development of an Autonomous Measurement System for Estimation of Snow Profile on Road Surfaces

Andre Espindola, Rajesh Rajamani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents the development of a novel prototype system to measure the profile of snow and detect ice on road surfaces. While researchers have previously developed methods to estimate the tire-road friction coefficient, methods to create a high resolution map of snow cover and ice on roads have not been developed. The prototype and data processing methods presented in this study provide a potential solution that would greatly benefit winter road maintenance teams. Having a device capable of creating a detailed map of snow and ice cover on roads would allow for more efficient plowing and salt deployment, better informing of the public about current road conditions, as well as better analysis of current plowing techniques to improve winter road maintenance operations. The measurement of the snow profile is based on the use of two types of inexpensive ranging sensors mounted on a rotationally controlled stepper motor platform.  The technical challenges addressed in the development include analysis of the scan path over which the system scans the road, differentiation between asphalt, concrete, and snow surfaces using reflection amplitudes, accurate transformation of raw distance measurements to inertial coordinates, and identification of the Euler angles of the sensors using parameters associated with the scanned surface profile. Extensive experimental results and test data are presented, which show that the system is capable of measuring the snow profile on a road with an accuracy of ±1 cm when a reasonable portion of bare road is visible, and ±2 cm when only small portions of bare road are visible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:


  • Ice
  • Laser radar
  • Maintenance engineering
  • Roads
  • Sensor systems
  • Sensors
  • Snow
  • Winter road maintenance
  • estimation algorithms
  • ice detection
  • laser sensors
  • snow profile


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