This project proposes to use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)-based bridge inspections to provide an economical and safer alternative to conventional inspection practices. The main challenge is that most existing technologies rely on general-purpose UAV platforms and there is no verified methodology for UAV-enabled bridge inspection principles and relevant considerations to reliably obtain inspection data. Hence, the goal of this multidisciplinary project is to address the complex nature of flying UAVs in close proximity of bridges by (1) testing and evaluating the performance of commercially available platforms for bridge inspection, and (2) developing robust flight control techniques to enhance the performance of the UAVs to handle high turbulent flows around bridges, taking into account bridge types, terrain characteristics, and weather information. The outcome of this project provides decision-makers with a step by step UAV-based bridge inspection procedures that can be extended to a variety of bridge designs and bridge environments.
The findings from this project will help
improving bridge inspection practices by achieving the following
objectives: (1) developing measurable
metrics to evaluate the performance of UAVs for bridge inspection and (2)
designing experiments to test the UAVs for bridge inspection in the first
phase, and (3) comprehensively analyzing the near-bridge environment flow
fields and (4) designing, prototyping, and implementing advanced and robust
flight control systems to carry remote sensing equipment in the second phase.
Such kind of robust flight control system improves the quality of collected
data through a stable flight system and enables conducting post-analysis of the
acquired information for bridges’ health diagnostics and assessment of their
residual life. More importantly, the outcome of this project reduces work
accident risks, inspection costs and time, and required logistics.