Simulation Training to Work With Bridge Inspection Robots

Bridge inspection is a human and capital resource intensive process critical to human safety and long term economic health. The principal investigator (PI) proposes to investigate and develop software to train human operators in monitoring and controlling a team of steel truss bridge inspection robots that will significantly decrease inspection cost, increase inspection reliability, and improve bridge safety. A single trained operator can control multiple robots. The software system being proposed thus enables a single person to control multiple heterogeneous inspection robots being investigated and developed under other INSPIRE UTC projects. Fewer expensive human operators reduced costs while multiple robots inspecting in parallel reduces time. The project team's proposed system thus trains human workforce operators to directly meet the INSPIRE UTC goal of making inspection and maintenance more reliable and cost-effective. Approach and Methodology: The same system and command interfaces are being used for training human bridge operators in simulation and in an operational environment. The project team proposes a three-step process. First, map the simulated world to the real world. Second, connect simulated robots with real robots being developed in other INSPIRE projects, and third, investigate and develop algorithms, protocols, and autonomy for maximizing inspection speed and completeness for human-robot bridge inspection teams on real-world sized bridges. The project team thus expects a straightforward transition from simulation training to on-site operation as the DOT moves to leverage the team's system’s artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomy development to increase safety and reduce cost. Overall Objectives: This project aims to further develop a Real-Time Robot command System (RTRS). This prototype control and simulation system will feature automated route generation, connectivity to at least two types of robots, and enable multiple views of robots’ task achieving progress. RTRS will be publicly available on Github and on the INSPIRE site. Scope of Work in Year 1: (1) Investigate algorithms for simulation control and mapping of multiple inspection robots within the same software system, (2) Integrate routing optimization into the simulation system to reduce human operator fatigue and improve monitoring, and (3) Evaluate inspection performance under different constraints. Scope of Work in Year 2: (1) Extend to at teams composed from at least two types of inspection robots, (2) Scale robot routing to real-world large truss bridges, and (3) Demonstrate and evaluate software usability and effectiveness with Inspire developed robots.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $37320
    • 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
    • Managing Organizations:

      Inspecting and Preserving Infrastructure through Robotic Exploration University Transportation Center

      Missouri University of Science and Technology
      Rolla, MO  United States  65409
    • Performing Organizations:

      Board of Regentsof the University of Nevada, Reno

      Reno, NV  United States 
    • Principal Investigators:

      Louis, Sushil

    • Start Date: 20200301
    • Expected Completion Date: 20201231
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01751893
    • 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 10 2020 4:51PM