Detecting Subsurface Voids in Roadways Using UAS with Infrared Thermal Imaging

The opening of soil voids below pavement caused by the failure of culverts and drainage piping creates a safety hazard. More accurate and cost-effective new non-destructive approaches are sought to inspect roadways. The study focuses on the experimental validation of rapid aerial infrared thermography (AIR_T) and unmanned aerial systems (UASs) for detecting soil voids and assessing the conditions of culverts and drainage piping underneath public roadways. Specific goals include: Determine the accuracy of IR imaging for field inspections to detect soil voids as a function of depth and to detect underground structures; Characterize the smallest size and severity of defects that can be detected with IR thermography; Define operational problems associated with its field deployment and suggest operating procedures to optimize the use of IR imaging on UAS platforms; Outperform currently used techniques such as visual inspection and GPR.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $60,000
  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Massachusetts Lowell

    One University Drive
    Lowell, MA  United States  01854
  • Principal Investigators:

    Sabato, Alessandro

  • Start Date: 20201115
  • Expected Completion Date: 20220215
  • Actual Completion Date: 20220228

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01781533
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Massachusetts Department of Transportation
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Sep 10 2021 3:36PM