ACPA is encouraging members, chapters, and technology partners to participate in an MIT pilot research project that uses smartphone technology and crowdsourcing to assess and report road conditions.  MIT researchers have developed a method to assess road roughness properties using acceleration data from a smartphone mounted inside of a vehicle. This method can also be used to map the aggregated excess fuel consumption and other factors. 

ACPA is joining MIT in encouraging participation in the research project. To begin, download MIT’s CARBIN app, which is available in both the Apple Store for iPhones and the Google Play Store for Android phones.  Please note: MIT will not collect your personnel information; the app “sees” each phone only as an anonymous, randomly assigned number that cannot be linked to any personal data. 

The next step is to activate the app by pressing “start” as you begin driving, then “end” at the end of your trip.  The data are then automatically sent to MIT for processing. Note: Please see special usage information below.*  

CARBIN will use your smartphone’s internal GPS and accelerometers to measure the road roughness as you drive your vehicle. The app will then convert the measurements to International Roughness Index (IRI) data, which are further calculated to show excess fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.  The data are mapped and visible on a special website,, which shows road conditions and where repairs are needed. Currently, the view is only from data gathered around Boston, but as additional data are collected from across the country, the map will start to fill in.  In addition to viewing the results on the website, users eventually will be able to get personalized reports of IRI and excess fuel consumption on roads traveled.  

To learn more about the app, please view the video created from a recent MIT webinar, which previewed the app.  The video can be viewed at or in ACPA’s YouTube channel:  Much of the webinar covers the underlying technology of the app, so to watch specific information about CARBIN, skip to time marker 19:10 and start from there.


For the CARBIN app to work properly, there are a couple of things to know.  First, the screen of phone always needs to be on. If the screen turns off, turn it back on to allow the CARBIN App to start collecting data again. The second issue is that the phone either needs to be in a holder or on the floor. It cannot be loose on the dash because the phone can slide around and move, which will alter the readings.  Likewise, the phone cannot be placed on a seat, which would act as a secondary suspension system because of the cushioning.  This could mask or hide the bumps/road roughness.