A Machine Learning Approach to Road Surface Anomaly Assessment Using Smartphone Sensors

Akanksh Basavaraju, Jing Du, Fujie Zhou, Jim Ji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Road surface quality is essential for improving driving experience and reducing traffic accidents. Traditional road condition monitoring systems are limited in their temporal (speed) and spatial (coverage) responses needed for maintaining overall road quality. Several alternative systems have been proposed that utilize sensors mounted on vehicles. In particular, with the ubiquitous use of smartphones for navigation, smartphone-based road condition assessment has emerged as a promising new approach. In this paper, we propose to analyze different multiclass supervised machine learning techniques to effectively classify road surface conditions using accelerometer, gyroscope and GPS data collected from smartphones. Our work focuses on classification of three main class labels-smooth road, potholes, and deep transverse cracks. We hypothesize that using features from all three axes of the sensors provides more accurate results as compared to using features from only one axis. We also investigate the performance of deep neural networks to classify road conditions with and without explicit manual feature extraction. Our results indicate that models trained with features from all axes of the smartphone sensors outperform models that use only one axis. We also observe that the use of neural networks provides a significantly improved data classification. The machine learning approach discussed here can be implemented on a larger scale to monitor roads for defects that present a safety risk to commuters as well as to provide maintenance information to relevant authorities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8896015
Pages (from-to)2635-2647
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Sensors Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020



  • accelerometer
  • crack
  • decision tree
  • multilayer perceptron
  • neural network
  • pavement condition
  • pothole
  • road condition
  • smartphone sensor
  • Support vector machines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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