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To Boost Safety, Researchers Explore New Approaches for Bridge Inspections

Posted: Jun 4, 2020

Collecting bridge inspection data is essential to bridge asset management and assuring that bridges receive timely maintenance so that highway maintenance investments can be directed most efficiently and bridges remain safe for users. MPC research at North Dakota State University proposed a holistic framework, from visual to in-depth inspection, to provide more reliable, consistent data for new element-level inspection and conditional assessment of bridges.

To overcome some challenges associated with various weather and environmental conditions, the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to enhance visual inspection dramatically impacted data collection by avoiding the use of subjective judgments and allowing researchers to reach otherwise inaccessible locations. In addition, three representative feature extraction techniques were explored to provide effective data fusion and information processing for in-depth/special/damage inspections. Results confirmed that these data-driven techniques exhibited high accuracy for distinguishing between undamaged and damaged elements, even when there was noise interference and under various operational conditions. Moreover, the data-driven classification methods in this study could effectively address the major interest factors, including damage level, damage location, sensor location, and moving load.

Timely information about bridge conditions obtained during visual and in-depth inspection will be used for determining needed maintenance and repairs, prioritizing rehabilitations and replacements, allocating resources, and evaluating and improving design for new bridges. The enhanced methods for data fusion and information extraction will be vital in how they impact bridge funding appropriations, and also dramatically improve public safety.

Zhibin Lin, Ph.D.
North Dakota State University

Improved Element-Level Bridge Inspection Criteria for Better Bridge Management and Preservation

NDSU Dept 2880P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050