Overloaded vehicles are the primary cause of accelerated degradation of road infrastructures. In this context, although weigh-in-motion (WIM) systems are most efficient to enforce weight regulations, current technologies require costly investments limiting their extensive implementation. Recent advances in multifunctional composites enabled cost-efficient alternatives in the form of smart pavements. Nevertheless, the need for a stable power supply still represents a major practical limitation. This work presents a novel proof-of-concept self-sustainable WIM technology combining smart pavements and vibration-based energy harvesting (EH). The feasibility of piezoelectric bimorph cantilevered beams to harvest traffic-induced vibrations is firstly investigated, followed by the demonstration of the proposed technology under laboratory conditions. The main original contributions of this work comprise (i) the development of a new self-powered data acquisition system, (ii) a novel approach for the fabrication and electromechanical testing of the piezoresistive composite pavement, and (iii) laboratory feasibility analysis of the developed EH unit to conduct traffic load identification through electrical resistivity measurements of the smart pavement. While the presented results conclude the need for dense EH networks or combinations of different EH technologies to attain complete self-sustainability, this work represents an initial feasibility evidence paving the way towards the development of self-powered low-cost WIM systems.
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