Robotic Inspection of Bridges Using Impact-Echo Technology

The aging civil infrastructure across the United States has been under the spot light due to recent bridge failures such as the I-35W bridge collapse. Many concrete and steel bridges that were built in the mid 20th century in response to the boom of automobiles are reaching their life expectancy, leaving questions about their structural integrity and deterioration levels. Millions of dollars have been invested each year to inspect bridge components using various technologies such as ground penetrating radar (GPR) and seismic pavement analyzer (PSA). These equipments are normally large and carried by trucks to monitor the health of the steel reinforced concrete bridge decks. However, for some difficult to access components (e.g., bridge foundations and pillars underneath decks), it lacks effective tools for regular inspection. A common method of under bridge inspection using snooper truck by a 2-man evaluation team with handheld non-destructive evaluation (NDE) devices is proposed. Among the available NDE devices, handheld impact-echo (IE) is the most commonly used technology for evaluating concrete and masonry structures. The current practice of manual inspection has to block traffic, and is time-consuming, expensive, and exposes human workers to dangerous situations. The project proposes to develop an automatic impact-echo system on board a specially designed wall-climbing robot to automate the inspection process. Compared with manual inspection, the wall-climbing robot will be able to scan vertical surfaces of bridge foundations and horizontal surfaces at the bottom of bridge decks, reach hard-to-access places, take close-up pictures, record and send impact-echo data wirelessly to host computer, and log global positioning systems (GPS) coordinates at every test point in a software system for further analysis. A group of such wall-climbing robots can do the inspection task simultaneously, making the automated inspection faster and more thorough than manual inspection, thus saving time and money, while making the national civic infrastructure more secure.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $160000.00
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    University Transportation Research Center

    City College of New York
    Marshak Hall, Suite 910, 160 Convent Avenue
    New York, NY  United States  10031
  • Project Managers:

    Eickemeyer, Penny

  • Performing Organizations:

    City College of the City University of New York

    30 West Broadway, 11th Floor
    New York, NY  United States  10007
  • Principal Investigators:

    Xiao, Dr. John (Jizhong)

    Agrawal, Anil

  • Start Date: 20121001
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20140331
  • Source Data: RiP Project 33101

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01493006
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: University Transportation Research Center
  • Contract Numbers: 49997-41-24
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Sep 17 2013 1:00AM