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High-tech van helping find cracks, potholes on city streets

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Posted at 9:57 PM, Jan 31, 2022

PHOENIX, Ariz. (KNXV) — The City of Phoenix is using a high-tech van to help detect which roads need to be repaired and how quickly they're breaking down.

The Automated Road Analyzer, also known as "Detective ARAN," is a converted Mercedes Sprinter van.

The van roams the streets looking for cracks and potholes, among other imperfections.

"Infrared lasers, infrared cameras, and sophisticated GPS allow it to do its job," said Ryan Stevens, who works within the city's Street Transportation Department.

With nearly five years of driving under its hood, ARAN has traveled about 37,000 miles along Phoenix's streets.

"It allows us to make objective decisions about the pavement condition and what the city is going to do about it," Stevens said.

The City of Phoenix doesn't solely rely on ARAN's data to determine which roads to fix and when; complaints from citizens and residents are also heard.

"We also do hear from our residents, and where those two align is a real win-win for us in terms of setting priorities," said Stevens.

ARAN cost the city $1 million. While some questioned the high price tag then, Stevens said the investment has already paid for itself because the city no longer has to hire a contractor to do the same analysis.

"It’s definitely worth that investment," he said.

This story was originally reported by Marc Thompson on