Quantitative Sensing of Bridges, Railways, and Tunnels with Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Quantitative Sensing of Bridges, Railways, and Tunnels with Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Managing a growing population of deteriorated transportation infrastructure systems (i.e. bridges, railways, tunnels) is one of biggest challenges faced by the nation. Traditional inspection and monitoring techniques (e.g., visual inspection, mechanical sounding, rebound hammer, cover meter, electrical potential measurements, ultrasound, ground penetrating radar) for bridges, railways, and tunnels require lane closure and are labor intensive and time-consuming. Existing remote sensing techniques (e.g., light detection and radar (LiDAR), aerial photos) using fixed-wing aircraft are capable of conducting large-area inspection but are constrained by viewing areas accessible only from above, at a large distance, and are not capable of inspecting all areas of interest (e.g., bridge piers, bridge girder bottom, and tunnel walls). Automated, low-cost, efficient inspection techniques for interrogating critical components of bridges, railways, and tunnels are needed. The objective of this project is to develop a system-level, decision-support unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sensing system for the autonomous, efficient inspection of bridges, railways, and tunnels, using radar, digital image correlation, and thermal sensors. The proposed UAV sensing system represents the next generation of rapid, low-cost interrogation technology for infrastructure inspection and monitoring of critical transportation infrastructure. Furthermore, the objective of this project is to develop a mobile platform that can be used to autonomously interrogate numerous areas on civil structures easily without requiring expensive, time consuming aerial lifts or inconsistent visual inspections. The proposed sensing platform will include innovative continuous wave imaging radar, digital image correlation, and thermal imaging to monitor structures or quantify damage. The sensing approach has already been demonstrated to provide accurate large area interrogation of bridges and will be built on a proven quad-rotor aircraft that is currently employed by the U.S. Army and manufactured by PSI Incorporated. The project will enable the next generation of rapid inspection and evaluation of bridges, railways, and tunnels.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $700000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Singh, Caesar

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Massachusetts Lowell

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

    Yu, Tzu-Yang

  • Start Date: 20140915
  • Expected Completion Date: 20161214
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Subprogram: Research

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01616110
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: University of Massachusetts, Lowell
  • Contract Numbers: OASRTRS-14-H-UML
  • Files: RiP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Nov 3 2016 11:08AM