Simulation and Field Implementation of Autonomous Drone Based Vibration and Structural Health Monitoring of Bridges

The status of the aging infrastructure in the United States (US) or elsewhere around the world has been recently one of the biggest challenges facing governments and decision-makers. According to the latest American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Infrastructure Card [1], America’s cumulative GPA is a D; a grade that comes with a large overwhelming infrastructure bill. Maintaining, repairing, or replacing existing infrastructure systems is a major undertaken activity in the US and around the world. Nonetheless, there is a dire need to have a forward look at future and next-generation infrastructure systems. In the US, the ASCE has laid three pillars for solving the nation’s infrastructure problems, i.e. (a) strategic and sustained investment, (b) bold leadership and thoughtful planning, and (c) careful preparation for the needs of the future. A major component of the ASCE’s “Preparing for the Future” vision [1] is to utilize emerging technologies to ensure infrastructure resilience in the face of extreme events and develop processes that modernize and extend the life of infrastructure, expedite repairs or replacement, and promote cost savings. The innovative applications of emerging technologies in infrastructure assessment and structural health monitoring has shaped several research thrusts among the civil and structural engineering communities and is one of the key motives of this proposed study, especially as the ABC-UTC is expanding its vision and role into Innovative Bridge Technologies for its new term starting next year, i.e. IBT/ABC-UTC. Several global technologies are on the rise such as aerial robotics, which are commonly referred to as unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or simply “drones”. Many of the critical lifelines and infrastructure systems such as bridge networks or power grids and transmission lines have taken serious steps towards adopting UAVs for regular maintenance and inspection. In fact, the federal National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) has now funded two recent initiatives for considering UAVs and drones for bridge inspection: (1) NCHRP 12-122: Proposed AASHTO Guidelines for Applications of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Technologies for Element-Level Bridge Inspection, which is a two-year project expected 2 to be concluded in 2023, and (2) NCHRP 23-20: Guidebook for Implementation of UAS Operational Capabilities, which is another two-year project expected to be concluded in 2024. Further using bridges as one example of critical infrastructure systems, a large deal of research studies has been sponsored, mostly through various Departments of Transportation (DOTs), to use UAVs for visual bridge inspections. However, none of the ongoing or emerging efforts have properly considered fully automating UAVs launch and path planning for dynamic vibration and structural system identification of bridges or other infrastructure systems. Moreover, future applications of UAVs to rapidly inform post-disaster decisions such as assessing a bridge condition to open it for traffic or not would be of great importance, is another motivation of this proposal.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $120000
    • Contract Numbers:


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center (ABC-UTC)

      Florida International University
      10555 W. Flagler Street
      Miami, FL  United States  33174

      Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

      University Transportation Centers Program
      Department of Transportation
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Performing Organizations:

      University of Nevada, Reno

      College of Engineering
      Reno, NV  United States  89557
    • Principal Investigators:

      Moustafa, M

    • Start Date: 20230530
    • Expected Completion Date: 0
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01889312
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center (ABC-UTC)
    • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747121
    • Files: UTC, RIP
    • Created Date: Jul 31 2023 12:11AM