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Researchers Developing Bridge Inspection Technology

Friday, February 1, 2019

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Missouri University of Science and Technology researchers are currently in the middle of a five-year project geared toward developing new bridge and highway inspection technologies that don’t disrupt traffic flow, which includes unmanned aerial vehicles and robots that can crawl where needed to inspect pillars or bridge decks.

The U.S. Department of Transportation provides $1.4 million a year in funding to a university transportation center at S&T known as the Inspecting and Preserving Infrastructure through Robotic Exploration (INSPIRE).

Bridge Inspection Technologies

“The work underway through our INSPIRE program can benefit similar statewide initiatives to repair our aging infrastructure in the future,” said Genda Chen, director of INSPIRE and the Robert W. Abbett Distinguished Chair in Civil Engineering at Missouri S&T.

Missouri S&T

Missouri University of Science and Technology researchers are currently in the middle of a five-year project geared toward developing new bridge and highway inspection technologies that don’t disrupt traffic flow, which includes unmanned aerial vehicles and robots that can crawl where needed to inspect pillars or bridge decks.

According to Chen, the research team is developing robotic arms for both flying and climbing unmanned vehicles to use for inspecting bridges and other transportation infrastructure.

“Once this technology is developed and in use, we will not need to close traffic for bridge inspection and preservation,” Chen added.

The robotic arms, controlled by engineers, could also do double duty by applying sealant or paint to sections of bridge, and those controlling the arms could keep tabs on the work through a screen. Chen also hopes to equip the robots with sensors and microwave cameras that can detect issues inside bridge beams and decks before they worsen into a more significant problem.

To facilitate this research, the university will also be opening a new research facility—the Clayco Advanced Construction and Materials Laboratory—slated for completion in spring 2020.

The new facility, an expansion of S&T’s Butler Carlton Civil Engineering Hall, will foster greater collaboration among researchers specializing in developing new materials for infrastructure and those who focus on applying these new technologies to infrastructure design.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Infrastructure; Inspection equipment; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Research and development

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