UAS-Enabled Solutions

for Bridge Inspection


Sponsored by NCDOT, this project uses Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)-based bridge inspection 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, while 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

    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.

Objectives and Impacts

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,

    2. designing experiments to test the UAVs for bridge inspection in the first phase,

    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.

The developed robust flight control systems improve 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.

The outcome of this project reduces work accident risks, inspection costs and time, and required logistics.​ Further, 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.