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Digital Roads of the Future


Name: Dr. Zhaojie Sun

Academic Division: Civil Engineering

Research Group: Digital Roads of the Future

Fellowship Period: 2 January 2024 – 1 January 2027


Personal Website:

Research Interests

Dr. Zhaojie Sun’s research interests include data science techniques, pavement dynamics, and structural health monitoring of pavements.

Strategic Themes

Data Science

Research Project

Title: Digital twin-driven structural health monitoring of roads by using physics-based model and machine learning

Theme: Data Science


To construct a digital twin of roads, the structural health information of roads is essential. This information can be obtained by conducting Non-Destructive Testing (NDT). A promising NDT method to evaluate road structural health is the Traffic Speed Deflectometer (TSD) test, which can continuously measure the surface response of roads caused by moving loads at normal driving speeds. In this project, a parameter identification technique for the TSD test will be developed by using physical modelling and machine learning. At first, an extensive literature review and in-depth discussions with stakeholders will be conducted to identify the requirements and expectations of final deliverables. Then, a physics-based model for the TSD test of roads will be developed, and the performance of the developed model will be validated by using available data. Next, based on the database generated by the developed physical model, a machine learning-based parameter identification technique will be developed. At last, the performance of the developed parameter identification technique for practical applications will be evaluated. The developed parameter identification technique for the TSD test can provide structural health information for the digital twin of roads, and further help formulate cost-effective maintenance and rehabilitation strategies of roads. In addition, by carrying out different dissemination activities, this project aims to promote the development of the whole road industry.


Dr. Zhaojie Sun received his Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) in 2012. After that, he continued his study in HIT and got his Master degree in Transportation Engineering in 2014. Then, he obtained his PhD degree in Pavement Engineering from Delft University of Technology in 2022 and worked as a Postdoc Researcher in the same section for about two years. Since 2024, he joined the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Future Roads Fellow.

Dr. Zhaojie Sun has the expertise of pavement structure dynamic analysis, pavement structural quality evaluation, tire-pavement interaction, and pavement material performance evaluation.