Improving Quality of Bridge Inspections Using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

The increasing costs of bridge inspections are a concern for Minnesota. The use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has been shown to reduce costs, improve the quality of bridge inspections, and increase safety. The UAS can deploy a wide range of imaging technologies including high definition still, video, and infrared sensors, and data can be analyzed using three-dimensional (3D) imaging software. Utilizing UAS technology, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) completed a small research project in 2015 to study the effectiveness of UAS technology applied to bridge safety inspections. The project team inspected four bridges at various locations throughout Minnesota and evaluated the UAS’s effectiveness in improving inspection quality and inspector safety based on field results. A second research effort demonstrated UAS imaging on the Blatnik Bridge and investigated UAS use for infrared deck surveys. Additionally, a best practices document was created to identify bridges that are best suited for UAS inspection based on bridge type, location, condition, and other variables. It is the goal, based on this research, to implement a statewide UAS bridge inspection plan, which will identify overall cost effectiveness, improvements in quality and safety, and future funding sources for both state and local bridges. Contractor will also investigate a collision tolerant drone for confined space inspections.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • MP-16(008)


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $99980
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Minnesota Department of Transportation

    395 John Ireland Boulevard
    St Paul, MN  United States  55155
  • Performing Organizations:

    Collins Engineers, Inc.

    1599 Selby Ave.
    Suite 206
    St. Paul, MN  United States  55104
  • Start Date: 20170407
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180930
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01632451
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Minnesota Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: 1027210
  • Files: RiP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Apr 21 2017 11:38AM