The ability of the road surface to handle years of abuse is something that, as you may have realized, is very important. But how do road builders test the performance of different materials?
Well, in France they use fatigue carousel, which looks like a giant spinning top with four arms. Each arm communicates with the road using road tires and the arms are designed to mimic the weight of a heavy vehicle.
It is all connected to a central motor that produces more than 1,000 hp (746 kW / 1,014 PS) and rotates the wheel around a road ring made with some tests required. Located in Nantes and illustrated by Tom Scott on YouTube, this particular machine is one of the largest in the world and can travel at speeds of up to 100 km / h (62 mph), although it typically travels around 70 km / h (43 mph).
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The facility has multiple rings, each 120 meters (394 feet) long, and tests do not last just a few hours. In fact, to mimic 10 to 20 years of use, the machine must rotate for several months at a time, endlessly.
Each ring reference should have a small control patch of the known building material but the rest can be made with any other material. The facility is testing roads made of green materials and roads with inductive charging designed to test their longevity.
The huge advantage is an attractive look that works so hard to create something that we don’t really think about until something goes wrong. Even in an age when computers have made virtual simulations easier, such real-world facilities are needed to verify those simulations and ensure that the roads are safe.