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Digital Roads of the Future


Name: Dr Shirin Malihi

Academic Division: Civil Engineering

Research Group:  Digital Twins

Fellowship period: 02 January 2024 – 02 January 2027



Research Interests 

 Shirin’s research interests include Building Information Modelling (BIM), 3D reconstruction, Sensor Fusion, evolutionary based optimization , Machine learning, Photogrammetry, LiDAR


Strategic Themes 

Digital Twin

Title:  Maintenance of  Road Digital Twin Using Multi-modal data

Theme: Digital Twin


A rich digital twin needs cost and effort which counteracts the value of digital twin and is not performed for most roads.  We lack the digital twining tools that generates digital twins of existing road assets and allow us to affordably maintain them. We need ways to update the digital twin.

In this fellowship program, I will follow up maintenance of a road digital twin considering time efficiency and customer needs. My proposed solution will enhance this virtual twin using multi-modal data including LiDAR, camera images, thermal images and GPR. This data will be processed using machine learning and big data analyses to enhance the Road DT (RDT) by augmenting objects of interest. First Objective of this project entails conducting an in-depth investigation into the suitability of different modalities in detection process and potential targets and defects that can be detected in an interactive decision-making approach. This analysis aims to identify the strengths and limitations of existing approaches and challenges of pavement surveys. Second objective of this project proceeds to detect the intended targets using the best modality upon  findings of objective 1. Learning-based methods, considering transferring knowledge from other modalities will be adapted considering time. Third objective focusses on combination of the detection process to the existing RDT. A rule-augmented element-based Simultaneous Pose and Correspondence method is customized according to the target domain. Forth Objective evaluates the results and augments other modalities spatial knowledge into RDT. Drawing from the insights gathered in former objectives, development of this system will deliver an enhanced RDT by a multi-phase augmentation of the intended targets in order to fully employ capabilities of RDT technology for pavement maintenance. The designed system will act as an intelligent and adaptable framework for customer needs in next phases.



Before joining the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge as Marie Sklodowska-Curie Future Roads Fellow, Shirin worked at University of Edinburgh as research associate in a Horizon-2020 Project on BIM. As postdoctoral researcher she had collaboration with New York and Tehran universities. Her PhD of Photogrammetry and Geomatics was supported on ‘large-scale building reconstruction using drone photogrammetry’ by Young Scientist Award of DAAD in Stuttgart and Braunschweig. She has a MSc in Photogrammetry Engineering from K.N. Toosi university of technology, Tehran and BSc in Surveying Engineering from university  of Esfahan.

She has more than 10 years experiences as senior engineer, manager and developer in national and state organizations and also in Industry in Iran and Germany and received award of the best engineering development in aerial photogrammetry. She was Principle Investigator and co- Principle Investigator in 3 academic projects, and consultant of two national projects. International scientific collaboration in more than 10 conferences and ISI journals, co-supervising several PhD and Postgraduate theses besides lectureship are a number of her academic activities. Her peer reviewed conference and journal papers are accessible via Google Scholar.