Volumetric Pothole Detection from UAV-Based Imagery

Siyuan Chen, Debra F. Laefer, Xiangding Zeng, Linh Truong-Hong, Eleni Mangina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Road networks are essential elements of a community's infrastructure and need regular inspection. Present practice requires traffic interruptions and safety risks for inspectors. The road detection system based on vehicle-mounted lasers is also quite mature, offering advantages such as high-precision defect detection, high automation, and fast detection speed. However, it does have drawbacks such as high equipment procurement and maintenance costs, limited flexibility, and insufficient coverage range. Therefore, this paper proposes a low-cost unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based alternative using imagery for automatic road pavement inspection focusing on pothole detection and classification. A slicing-based method, entitled the Pavement Pothole Detection Algorithm, is applied to the imagery after it is converted into a three-dimensional point cloud. When compared with manually extracted results, the proposed UAV-structure-from-motion (SfM) method and the associated algorithm achieved 0.01 m level accuracy for pothole depth detection and maximum errors of 0.0053 m3 in volume evaluation for cases studies of both a road and a bridge deck.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number05024001
JournalJournal of Surveying Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2024


  • Pavement evaluation
  • Photogrammetry
  • Point cloud
  • Structure from motion (SfM)
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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