Development and Implementation of a Moving Nondestructive Evaluation Platform for Bridge Deck Inspection

Nondestructive evaluation (NDE) technologies have the potential to inform bridge deck managers of conditions that cannot be obtained by simple visual analysis of bridge decks or from a single summary score like the National Bridge Inventory rating. NDE tests for bridge decks are usually time-consuming and labor-intensive evaluations due to the large size of structures, especially for point test methods such as impact-echo and ultrasonic tests. Automated NDE techniques using robotics have been proposed and developed in recent years. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sponsored the robotic NDE system RABIT, which is a high-cost single unit that requires extensive training and traffic control to operate. Multiple NDE devices are attached to the RABIT, including ground penetrating radar (GPR), resistivity, impact-echo, and ultrasonic measurements, but the scanning speed is limited by the slowest NDE test method. In contrast, individual lower-cost units can collect the data more efficiently, and the data can be fused to achieve a more accurate picture than that provided by a single robotic unit. This proposal outlines an approach that will make collecting NDE data significantly easier and faster in the field and enable fusion of data through advanced post-processing algorithms. The objective of this proposal is to construct a universal moving NDE platform that will provide spatial positioning information for multiple NDE modalities. Together with post-testing data fusion techniques, this platform will allow layering of data for presentation to bridge managers. It is anticipated that this platform will allow NDE data capture that will aid bridge managers in making decisions about rehabilitation strategies for bridge decks.