Road Condition Sensors Information

Remote surface state sensor

Road condition sensors measure surface conditions including surface temperature, water film height, freezing point, ice percentage, and the friction coefficient. They are used to assess road conditions and winter maintenance operations. They may detect chemicals present that affect the freezing point or friction coefficient.

Sensor types

Road condition sensors are either active or passive and include embedded pavement sensors, remote surface sensors, and vehicle mounted sensors.

Active sensors require an external power source, sometime described as excitation voltage. They may be hard-wired or battery operated.

Passive sensors detect changes in the surrounding environment and output a signal that is proportional to the measured variable without the need for a power source. Examples of passive sensors include thermocouples. Thermocouples detect a thermally induced voltage that is produced by joining two dissimilar conductors with opposing thermoelectric coefficients.

  • Embedded pavement sensor are typically fixed-in-pace in a drilled cavity using a quick setting epoxy. The sensor face is designed to endure harsh conditions in high traffic areas. The sensor face mounts flush to the pavement surface and measures near surface environmental properties.
  • Remote surface sensors are pole mounted or otherwise installed above the measured surface offering non-invasive measurement of road surface conditions. They rely on remote sensing techniques to measure and assess road conditions.
  • Vehicle mounted sensors, like remote surface sensors, rely on remote sensing techniques to detect near surface environmental properties. Vehicle mounted sensors allow operators to survey larger areas and detect real-time surface conditions.


Road condition sensors are used to assess pavement surface conditions and schedule winter maintenance operations.Intelligent active road sensor via LufftUSA They are commonly used to monitor roads, highways, bridges, parking areas, and sidewalks. Airports also make use of road condition sensors to monitor aircraft runways and taxiways. The ability to assess pavement surface conditions in real-time increases the efficiency of maintenance operations.


DIN EN 15518-2 - This European Standard specifies the frequency, resolution and content of road weather observation and forecast products for a Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS).

SAE ARP5623 - This SAE Aerospace Recommended Practice (ARP) covers the requirements for a combined Mobile Digital Infrared Pavement Surface, Ambient Air, and Dew Point Temperature Sensing System (referred to as the system). 

Image credits:

Vaisala | LufftUSA

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