Automated Scour Detection Arrays using Bio-Inspired Magnetostrictive Flow Sensors

Sponsor: US Department of Transportation

PI: R. Andrew Swartz

Scour is the most common cause of catastrophic bridge failures worldwide. Approximately over 60% of bridge failures reported in the United States from 1966 to 2005 are scour related. To ensure the continued safe operation of bridges, monitoring bridge scour is of paramount importance. Most monitoring regimes that are widely used are based on expensive underwater instrumentation. This research focuses on scour detection using automated remote flow detection arrays based on bio-inspired flow sensors. This study employs an array of bio inspired flow sensors that are inexpensive and robust versions of buried-rod scour sensor arrays, coupled with low-power wireless sensor network utilizing civil-engineering domain wireless sensing units to detect scour around bridge piers and abutments. Sensors within the network that report dynamic flow signals are considered to be waterborne or located above the sediment and sensors reporting static signals are characterized as buried or as being located in sediment. The a priori information of sensor depth will help to establish the sediment level in real time. An automated data interrogation system collects data, processes the raw sensor data using in-network data interrogation methods, then and communicates the results to the on-site base station. The relative directness of this data interrogation adds to the robustness of the system. The main purpose of the scour detection system is to provide remote scour information to bridge owners in a format that is easy to comprehend as an aid in decision making. In this project, only processed results, not raw data, are transmitted to the user. The system under study utilizes a cellular data link to relay simplified data to the bridge owner to aid in decision making.

A robust program of validation has been conducted to define the limits of the approach in the laboratory in the field. This reports details research activities on whisker development for sensitivity and robustness, signal processing, hardware development, installation methods, automation, and visualization of results.

A copy of this report can be found on the National Transportation Library website.

R. Andrew Swartz
R. Andrew Swartz

 

Sustainable Geotechnical Asset Management along the Transportation Infrastructure Environment using Remote Sensing

Sponsor: US Department of Transportation

PI: Thomas Oommen

The objective of this study is to establish a sustainable framework for Geotechnical Asset Management (GAM) using remote sensing data that can be used by the state departments of transportation across the US in order to identify and mitigate the failure of geotechnical assets proactively along the transportation infrastructure environment. Developing a sustainable GAM to enable more proactive infrastructure risk assessment is critical for strategic investment and long term management of the United State’s transportation infrastructure.

Remote sensing techniques, such as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) provide great opportunities to measure ground movements precisely. Additionally, high resolution optical images complement observations from InSAR and LiDAR. Applying these techniques to the transportation environment can help to monitor and manage the stability of the geotechnical assets and would significantly reduce the level of effort currently needed to survey and inspect these assets.

A copy of this report can be found on the National Transportation Library website.

Thomas Oommen
Thomas Oommen

Study of Greenhouse Gas Savings Associated with Congestion Reduction Using Multi-Modal Optimization of Timber Shipments in the North Central United States

Sponsor: US Department of Transportation

PI: Pasi Lautala

This study examined industry led models for the optimization of timber shipments in the North Central United States (norther third of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan). The research team analyzed optimization models of the delivery of logs to the wood products industry in the region. The research team investigated a multi-modal (rail/truck), surface transportation solution set and performed a sensitivity analysis based on changing energy costs. The team evaluated the potential effects on air emissions before and after the virtual routing optimization. The team also explored options for establishing a rail served super yard in the region to reduce consolidate logs with the object of reducing empty truck miles and increasing rail ton-miles.

A copy of this report can be found on the University of Wisconsin – Superior website.

Pasi Lautala
Pasi Lautala

Beyond Traffic Innovation Center (BTIC)

SPONSOR:  US DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (USDOT)

PI:  Pasi Lautala

The close partnerships between diverse entities on MTU’s campus allow Michigan Tech to serve the transportation field across many areas. Innovations and research conducted under entities such as the Michigan Tech Research Institute, Advanced Power Systems Research Center, and numerous laboratories can be integrated into our academic programs by departments, but also disseminated to practitioners and public stakeholders through our Center for Technology and Training (CTT), Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP) and Center for Science and Environmental Outreach (CSEO).

Michigan Tech has a strong and versatile academic program in transportation. Our Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers BS, MS, and PhD concentrations in transportation. In addition, we house one of the few Rail Transportation Programs in the nation and perhaps the only Minor in Rail Transportation available today. There also are certificate programs in Hybrid Electric Drive Vehicle Engineering, Advanced Electric Power Engineering and a graduate certificate in Automotive Systems, plus numerous opportunities for undergraduate and graduate level transportation research in various disciplines. These include our innovative Enterprise Programs for undergraduate research in areas, such as alternative energy, hybrid electric vehicles and wireless communications.

In addition to our academic programs, we offer professional training and outreach in transportation topics through a variety of centers. CTT is a transportation training and outreach center focusing on practitioner training, technical assistance, and best practices that enhance business and technical practices for state and local agencies. Their training typically reaches 5,000 participants annually with over 24,000 contact hours. TTAP offers similar services to American Indian governments and communities in the 31 states bordering and east of the Mississippi River (Federal Lands Eastern Region), reaching 1,100 annual participants and 4,200 contact hours. Finally, the Michigan Tech Mobile Lab is a fully outfitted mobile laboratory that partners with government, industry, and nonprofit organizations to deliver HEV (hybrid-electric vehicle) education, outreach, and research across the nation.

Michigan Tech has been instrumental in organizing regional and national conferences and workshops, such as the annual Michigan Rail Conference founded by Michigan Tech in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the National Tribal Transportation Conference. Michigan Tech also collaborated in a workshop funded by FHWA with participants from state DOTs like Caltrans, city government, European representatives, and industry to “Address Infrastructure Life Cycle Inventory Data Needs: Supporting Sustainable Decision-Making for Civil Infrastructure Using EPDs.” Dr. John Harvey from the University of California Pavement Research Consortium (UCPRC) was a close collaborator on the effort. In 2016, we also initiated the Exploring Next Generation IN-vehicle INterfaces Consortium (ENGIN) and related speaker series.

Michigan Tech educates and encourages K-12 students to advance in the transportation field through several youth events and summer programs. These include the National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI), Rail and Intermodal Summer Youth Program (SYP), Women in Automotive Engineering, and Human Factors Engineering programs. We also host the annual Clean Snowmobile Challenge at Michigan Tech’s Keweenaw Research Center.

Michigan Tech is engaged in national and regional decision making through participation in and leadership of committees. Some examples include the Chairmanship of the TRB AR040 Freight Rail Committee and involvement in AASHTO Subcommittee on Materials and FHWA Sustainable Pavements Technical Working Group. Michigan Tech is also represented in the seven-member State of Michigan Commission for Supply Chain and Logistics Collaboration, and our faculty/staff has obtained national and regional awards, such as the Wootan Award received by Timothy Colling and the 2015 WisDOT Tribal Excellence Award from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation received by John Velat.

While not located in one of the 11 megaregions identified in the Beyond Traffic 2045, our location in rural Michigan makes us ideal in addressing trends and challenges faced by rural transportation, and we have worked closely with Michigan Department of Transportation and local governments in these issues. However, Michigan Tech’s leadership is not restricted to rural aspects. Many of our activities have broader impacts, such as the RoadSoft asset management software developed at Michigan Tech and used in the Michigan and several others states by rural and urban counties alike.

Michigan Tech is directly involved in addressing several trends/challenges identified in the Beyond Traffic document. We have conducted numerous studies related to the challenges faced in freight transportation in our region, conducted Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA) to evaluate environmental impacts of different transportation materials and related solutions, are actively involved in emissions research for various engines, are one of the leaders in advancing open source 3D printing, have on-going projects related to V2V and automated vehicle research, and have had various projects related to alternative energies for transportation, especially in the biomass supply chains for biofuel development. Michigan Tech researchers and educators accomplish this innovative work through collaborative thinking and working across departments and disciplines, which allows us to tackle large-scale projects that require a diverse skill set.

 

Pasi Lautala
Pasi Lautala