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UC research will revolutionise road construction monitoring

28 March 2024

A University of Canterbury PhD graduate is using digital technology to transform traditional processes in New Zealand’s billion-dollar construction industry.


Dr Tirth Patel's ground-breaking work aims to revolutionise the monitoring of road construction, by developing an automated approach to replace manual and error-prone practices.

“Construction projects often face challenges such as time and cost overruns because of associated risks. These are exacerbated by the lack of real-time and efficient mechanisms for project stakeholders to monitor progress,” Dr Patel says.

Using sensors mounted on a drone and ground vehicle, Dr Patel has developed a system for automated data collection, followed by processing and analysis using Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based algorithms. He’s also designed a web-based platform for real-time reporting of road construction progress.

“This approach significantly streamlines construction progress measurement compared to manual, error-prone methods, saving time and costs for construction companies.”

“My research helps construction companies to make informed decisions and to streamline their project management. Through the integration of cutting-edge technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), drones, and AI, my work offers a complete shift from traditional construction practices.

“By fostering resilience and innovations, we are seeking to equip the construction industry with the tools needed to navigate evolving challenges with confidence and adaptability.”

Dr Patel is one of the few students who is furthering his research in the construction sector following the completion of his doctoral studies.

Now working as a postdoctoral fellow in Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC)’s Civil and Natural Resources Engineering, Dr Patel is actively involved in a CanConstructNZ project funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) that centres on modelling New Zealand's construction capacity and capability.

“The objective is to establish an equilibrium between the pipeline projects and the capacity of the construction sector. We're employing data-driven and knowledge-driven methodologies to tackle pressing challenges the industry faces, and to make the sector sufficiently resilient to adeptly navigate uncertainties and disruptions,” Dr Patel says.

“Ultimately, I aim for my work to contribute to the industry's resilience and efficiency, fostering positive change and progress. By addressing challenges such as dynamic supply and demand, skills shortages, and various industry shocks and stresses, we want to provide practical solutions to critical issues.”


  • PhD supervisors Dr Brian Guo, Dr Daniel van der Walt and the Civil and Natural Resources Engineering Department, University of Canterbury.
  • UC Associate Professor Eric Scheepbouwer for his guidance and unwavering support through the collaborative efforts of the MBIE-funded CanConstructNZ project.
  • The New Zealand Institute of Building (NZIOB) for a significant contribution to Dr Patel’s professional development and understanding of the construction industry.

Read more of our graduate success stories here.

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