Re-Inventing the Bridge Inspection Program

The Inspecting and Preserving Infrastructure through Robotic Exploration (INSPIRE) center will apply mobile sensors, robots, and UAVs in bridge inspection to improve quality of inspection data and reduce time and cost. Full use and benefit of these technologies demands the re-invention of programs for bridge inspection. It is not sufficient to graft new technologies onto existing inspection programs. A new inspection program will be proposed with the following considerations: (1) Visual inspection by a human inspector is low-tech, but complex. An inspector makes multiple, diverse decisions to identify, evaluate, and record conditions during inspections. The inspector cannot be automated. Instead, clearly defined constituent tasks in observation or detection could aid the inspector. (2) Constituent tasks cost less if tasks are repeated with little or no change at many bridge elements and at many bridges. Inspections can be organized by task, a single task at many bridges in one deployment, which differs from the current organization by bridge, many tasks at a single bridge in one deployment. (3) Inspections can be made incremental with knowledgeable crews for various tasks. Separate crews complete separate tasks at separate times. But conditions and defects are mapped in standardized reports of inspections. Spatial distribution and correlation of conditions among elements will help understand and remedy the causes of deterioration. (4) A data system is needed to track the dates and methods of all constituent tasks together with the bridge elements and portions of elements completed. The data system aids in efficient organization of inspection activities, and in assurance that each bridge is completely inspected every two years. (5) All constituent inspection reports at each bridge are periodically reviewed to make a comprehensive evaluation of safety, which is the intent of Federal regulations for bridge inspection programs. National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) Team Leaders will have new authority to select, schedule, accept, and review constituent inspections, and then make evaluations of safety. Evaluations will include a field visit to each bridge to verify the remaining uncertain or ambiguous findings of constituent inspections. This project aims to develop and demonstrate a new cost-efficient, risk-based program of inspection of highway bridges. The new program employs spatial reporting of conditions, risk-based inspection intervals, incremental execution of inspections as constituent tasks, and automation of inspection tasks. It matches inspection methods to intended uses of inspection data with a comprehensive organization to monitor performance of bridges, to identify emerging risks, and to support planning of preservation actions for bridges. The focus of the first year will be on spatial reporting for bridge inspections. Standards and case studies of spatial reporting of bridge inspections will be produced. Spatial reporting captures the locations of all conditions and defects found during inspection. Existing methods of inspection will be adapted to map-based reporting. Maps are broadly defined to include schematic plans of bridges and the use of photo overlays to record locations of defects. Both paper- and computer-based reporting methods will be addressed.


Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01646004
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Inspecting and Preserving Infrastructure through Robotic Exploration University Transportation Center
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747126
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Sep 14 2017 10:29AM