The SmartR project

The road of tomorrow funded to the tune of €452,000 –Press release, 5 December 2017

Using technology based on a network of nanosensors built into the road and innovative algorithms, the SmartR project aims to provide roads that are smarter, safer and more sustainable. The project, which is managed by École Polytechnique[1], the CNRS and IFSTTAR, was selected by the Paris-Saclay SATT (Company for the Acceleration of Technology Transfer) to receive almost €k452 of funding over an eighteen-month period. A start-up known as ALTAROAD is in charge of delivering the promised infrastructure sustainability and safety.

SmartR sets out to achieve high speed accuracy and be robust under real-world conditions, providing a non-intrusive connected monitoring system which is able to identify traffic patterns and the state of the pavement. Surface or sub-surface planar deformations of the road are thus detected in real time and analysed in order to output the characteristic parameters of the roads, the state of the traffic and the behaviour of motorists in terms of speed, type of vehicle, vehicle wheel gauge, axle load, trajectory, pavement ageing, delays and congestion, abnormal or hazardous traffic movements.

The research team has access to infrastructure such as the Platine sensor reliability platform at École Polytechnique, IFSTTAR’s realistic urban innovation demonstrator “Sense-City” which is a miniature laboratory city offering a wide range of facilities for prototyping and evaluating the performance of micro- and nanosensors for sustainable cities.

The SmartR project has the backing of NACRE (Nanotechnologies for Environmentally Friendly Cities) which was set up on 1st May 2010 and is made up of researchers from École Polytechnique, the CNRS, Mines ParisTech and IFSTTAR. The project is led by Bérengère Lebental, who coordinates work on it at the LPICM[2] and COSYS[3] and Cécile Villette who is an expert in digital strategy and the launching of connected products who set up the start-up ALTAROAD to promote the SmartR technology. The founding team met while taking the MBA for Entrepreneurs course which is run by HEC Paris in collaboration with Université Paris Saclay. [1].

The role of the start-up ALTAROAD is to conduct real-time data analysis whose uses include measuring the footprint or weight of a specific vehicle, managing traffic in the smart city by identifying individual vehicles, identifying zones where the infrastructure needs maintenance, rapidly detecting risky situations (black ice, wrong-way driving, poor lane-keeping by an autonomous vehicle). By providing a comprehensive solution for road transport operators and the managers of transit zones (urban areas, worksites, quarries, logistics warehouses), ALTAROAD makes it possible to take quantified decisions on the zones that require maintenance and traffic management, based on the information generated by this data accumulation platform.

SATT Paris-Saclay’s investment in the SmartR project will help to ensure the innovation’s commercial success.


[1] The École polytechnique, the CNRS and HEC Paris are founding members of Université Paris-Saclay.

[2] LPICM : Laboratory of Physics of Interfaces and Thin Films, UMR  7647 a research unit that is jointly managed by the École polytechnique, the CNRS and Université Paris-Saclay.

[3] COSYS : Département Composants et Systèmes, IFSTTAR.

Photo : © The solution proposed by SmartR / SmartR