The simulator was constructed by a South African company based in Cape Town, to a design by the University of Stellenbosch, and initial tests were conducted in Mozambique. In collaboration with the ETH Zurich’s Institute for Geotechnical Engineering, Partl’s team initiated a research project with the intention of evaluating the testing machine and, if it gave satisfactory results, establishing it in Switzerland. Partl and his colleague Markus Caprez of the ETHZ were in Mozambique as the prototype was being put through its paces, testing every detail of its operation. Their verdict: excellent at producing road wear, but hellishly noisy! «We could never have used it Switzerland given the racket it made initially», says Partl. Only after the South Africans fitted the machine with a sound reducing enclosure and placed acoustically absorbing matting around its noisiest parts was the monster allowed to enter the country.
Practical tests on Swiss motorways
«Now we hope that our simulator will do horrible things to Switzerland’s road system», says Partl. The section of roadway on which the machine will perform its first continuous load test is on an extension of the Oberland Motorway near Hinwil in Canton Zurich. «Road traffic won’t be affected by the trial», he continues. After two weeks of load simulation the level of damage will be evaluated. How long the simulator will remain at this location depends on the length of time it takes to destroy the stretch of road. Partl believes it will take a maximum of two months.