Intelligent Pavement: The Future of Pavement?

AI, or artificial intelligence, has been the talk of the past year. As the hype around what AI can do grows, let’s examine the next big advance in paving: intelligent pavement.

Intelligent pavement, also called smart pavement, is a prefabricated paving system that allows the manufacturer to layer in data sensors, wireless charging, and other smart tools to allow the pavement to communicate with data centers. If this sounds like something you’d find in science fiction, then the future is now. Smart pavement is being tested and installed in various sites around the world and is likely the pavement of the (near) future.

How Is Intelligent Pavement Made?

Integrated Roadways Smart Pavement system

Integrated Roadways is a company in Kansas City designing intelligent pavement with the goal of transforming U.S. roads into “self-sustaining smart roads”. Their concrete panels are precast in a factory. Integrated Roadways partnered with McPherson Concrete to create large panels that are interlaid with 32 sensors and 16 expansion ports. Fiber optic cables run through the panels, which are made to interlock with the other panels for easy installation.


Integrated Roadways Smart Pavement system

image src:

This image from Integrated Roadways reveals how the panel is designed with interlocking components on the edge and fiberoptic cable and sensors embedded in the concrete. Image: Integrated Roadways at

Where Is Smart Pavement Installed?

Currently, the system is being trialed in Denver, Colorado and Lenexa, Kansas, which is Integrated Roadways’ hometown. In Denver, they’ve introduced the smart pavement at the Brighton Boulevard intersection, replacing traditional pavement with four precast slabs back in 2018. Now, they’re working on installing sections in Lenexa City Center, an up-and-coming urban, multi-use development. If these initial trials go well, Integrated Roadways may be able to scale up the production of precast panels and bring the technology to more locations.

What Can Intelligent Pavement Do?

The pavement is “smart” for a reason. With the data censors inside the precast panels, it collects information and sends it to a smart data center, which in the future could be accessed through an app and instantaneously inform users of the data. This includes the amount of traffic on the roadways, how heavy the vehicles are, the make and models of vehicles, and the current condition of the roadway. Conceivably, cities and states could use this data to understand where maintenance needs to be done, where traffic congestion is, and how to regulate it, and even measure the weight of traffic on bridges and its effects on the bridge’s structure.

Potential Benefits of Smart Pavement

If you like to dream big about a future where everything is connected, smart pavement can certainly help fulfill that vision. A few of its benefits are:

  • Improved safety for vehicles and pedestrians
  • Lower costs of maintenance
  • Lower impact on the environment
  • Revenue generating possibilities through data use
  • Potential ability to charge electric vehicles wirelessly

Of course, the potential for security risks and failed sensors also exist, among other risks. 

Potential Drawbacks of Intelligent Pavement

  • Costly installation
  • Privacy concerns around data collected
  • Integration challenges between smart pavement and regular pavement
  • Sensor reliability concerns

Technology always arrives first as science fiction, and the prediction of smart roadways has been made before. The technology exists, as Integrated Roadways has proven, but what’s unknown is whether cities and states will be willing to pay the current high price of installation. Although intelligent pavement is by no means the norm at the moment, it’s very likely to become at least part of the roadway system in the next ten to twenty years. For this reason alone, it should be noted with interest.

To learn more about Integrated Roadways, visit their website at Read more about how Smart Pavement could connect cars to Smart Cities from Tim Sylvester at Brandon Noel, editor at Asphalt Contractor and Pavement Maintenance & Reconstruction, also wrote an interesting article on the pros and cons of Smart highways at