Carnegie Mellon University

landslide photo

March 09, 2020

Putting AI to Use Predicting Urban Landslides

Technology that can help predict which roadways are at risk of landslides is under development at Carnegie Mellon University’s Metro21: Smart Cities Initiative. This work was recently featured in an article by GCN: The Technology that Drives Government IT.

Christoph Mertz, principal project scientist at CMU’s Robotics Institute, came up with the idea to study images of roads and their surroundings to determine the best indicators of landslide risk, after hearing the keynote speaker at the 2018 launch of Metro21, a research and development arm of CMU, talk about dealing with the aftermath of a record number of landslides in Allegheny County, Pa., that year.

Mertz doesn’t have a precise timeline for going from ideation to practice, but he has identified a bus company to work with and hopes to have data within a year to start analyses.

“I hope that we will soon have one indicator that can throw up a red flag,” he said. “I might look at cracks and say that if cracks develop faster than a certain speed, then it’s a warning,” and the data could be sent to an engineer who could tell if the crack warranted more investigation.

This technology will not only exclusively help predict landslides. There are many other potential uses because anything captured in the video -- dead trees, tall grass, invasive plant species and illegal trash dumping, for instance -- can be analyzed and used by the city and county to take action.

To read the full article, click here

To learn more about the project, click here