Evaluation of Bridge Decks using Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) at Near Highway Speeds for Effective Asset Management

Sponsor: Michigan Department of Transportation

PI: Theresa Ahlborn

Remote sensing technologies allow for the condition evaluation of bridge decks at near highway speed. Data collection at near highway speed for assessment of the top of the concrete deck and proof of concept testing for the underside of the deck was conducted for surface and subsurface evaluation. 3-D photogrammetry was combined with passive thermography to detect spalls, cracks and delaminations for the top of the concrete bridge deck, while active thermography was investigated for bottom deck surface condition assessment. Successful field demonstrations validated results comparable to MDOT inspections. Recommendations for immediate implementation for condition assessment of the top of a concrete deck are included for introducing the BridgeViewer Remote Camera System into current bridge inspections to provide a photo inventory of the bridge deck captured at 45mph and above using GoPro cameras. The combined optical photogrammetry (3DOBS) and passive thermography technologies provide an objective analysis of spalls, cracks and suspected delaminations while traveling at near highways speed. Using the same 3DOBS technology with higher resolution cameras and slower speeds, cracks can be detected as small as 1/32 in. Laboratory and field demonstrations show active thermography would benefit from further development as a remote sensing technology for condition assessment on the underside of the bridge deck.

A copy of this report can be found on the Michigan Department of Transportation website.

Tess Ahlborn
Tess Ahlborn

Center for Structural Durability

Sponsor: Michigan Department of Transportation

PI: Tess Ahlborn

The Center for Structural Durability (CSD) explores research in the area of durable structural highway systems including ultra-high performance concrete applications, rapid construction for prestressed concrete bridges, and inspection and repair of transportation systems and bridges using remote sensing and other non-destructive inspection techniques. Structural durability related research helps state DOTs, federal agencies and industry clients achieve their performance goals of safety, mobility, and productivity of the transportation system while developing long-term solutions to improve the resiliency of our nation’s transportation structures.

Tess Ahlborn
Tess Ahlborn

Evaluating the Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Transportation Purposes

Sponsor: Michigan Department of Transportation

PI: Colin Brooks

Advances in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology have enabled these tools to become easier to use and afford. In a budget-limited environment, these flexible remote sensing technologies can help address transportation agency needs in operations, maintenance, and asset management while increasing safety and decreasing cost.

This project tested and evaluated five main UAV platforms with a combination of optical, thermal, and LiDAR sensors to assess critical transportation infrastructure and issues such as bridges, confined spaces, traffic flow, and roadway assets.

A State of the Practice report was completed, and a series of lab testing were accomplished to ensure practicality and safe operations. Field demonstrations were completed at bridges, pump stations, and conferences. The project team gave a series of technical demonstrations at the Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress in Detroit in September, 2014, enabling outreach to a wide domestic and international audience who gained understanding of the advanced research that MDOT is funding. These demonstrations showed that UAV technologies provide many advantages to helping MDOT cost-effectively assess, manage, and maintain its resources, providing benefit to staff and the traveling public.

A copy of this report can be found on the Michigan Department of Transportation website.

Colin N. Brooks
Colin N. Brooks
Tess Ahlborn
Tess Ahlborn
Timothy Havens
Timothy Havens
Thomas Oommen
Thomas Oommen

Bridge Condition Assessment Using Remote Sensors

Sponsor:  US Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA)

PI:  Tess Ahlborn     

The condition of the nation’s infrastructure has gained increased attention in recent years, primarily as a result of catastrophic events such as the I-35W collapse in Minneapolis. However, deteriorating transportation infrastructure has burdened transportation agencies for many years. Bridges continue to age, and funds for the repair and replacement of this infrastructure are insufficient at current funding levels. Remote sensing technologies, which enables non-contact data collection at great distances, offer the ability to enhance inspection and monitoring of bridges. Research Objectives The objective is to explore the use of remote sensing technologies to assess and monitor the condition of bridge infrastructure and improve the efficiency of inspection, repair, and rehabilitation efforts to develop unique signatures of bridge condition. Methodology Remote sensing technologies will be correlated with in-place sensors to obtain bridge condition assessment data without the need to place heavy instrumentation on the structure. This information will then be analyzed by a computer decision support system to develop unique signatures of bridge condition. Monitoring how these signatures change over time will provide state and local engineers with additional information used to prioritize critical maintenance and repair of our nation’s bridges. The ability to acquire this information remotely from many bridges without the expense of a dense sensor network will provide more accurate and near real-time assessments of bridge condition. Improved assessments allow for limited resources to be better allocated in repair and maintenance efforts, thereby extending the service life and safety of bridge assets, and minimizing costs of service-life extension.

A copy of the final report and its appendices can be found at http://mtri.org/bridgecondition/

Tess Ahlborn
Tess Ahlborn
Lawrence Sutter
Lawrence Sutter
Colin N. Brooks
Colin N. Brooks
Bob Shuchman
Bob Shuchman
Joe Burns
Joe Burns

Implementation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for Assessment of Transportation Infrastructure – Phase II

Sponsor:  Michigan Department of Transportation

PI:  Colin Brooks

Through Phase I of MDOT’s “Evaluating the Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Transportation Purposes” project, the Michigan Tech combined project team was successfully able to plan, demonstrate, and document UAV capabilities in the assessment of transportation assets.

With the rapid development of UAV’s, MDOT has requested additional research concerning their use for transportation asset management.  The work plan of the MTU combined team includes:

TASK 1:

  • Collect data from the UAV platform using sensing technology in near-time (as real-time as can be achieved) demonstrating, developing, and implementing storage capabilities of large amounts of data, usage of data, and application development that complements current data usage and application at MDOT.
  • Provide data collection from UAVs to the MDOT Data, Use, Analysis, and Process (DUAP) project that meets the quality, low latency delivery and data format requirements.
  • Provide a report that describes and recommends optional methods to store and distribute potentially large imaging, point cloud, and 3D surface datasets created through UAV-based data collection.

TASK 2:

  • Demonstrate, develop, and implement high-accuracy simultaneous thermal/photo/video/Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) measurement using a high-fidelity sensor-fused UAV positioning approach.

TASK 3:

  • Demonstrate the capabilities to complete aerial remote sensing data collections to meet MDOT mapping and construction monitoring needs.  Coordinate with MDOT Survey Support to identify pilot projects and meet data delivery needs satisfying MDOT requirements for spatial data collection as it pertains to data density, absolute and relative 3D positional accuracy.

TASK 4:

  • Demonstrate, develop and implement uses of data collection from UAV(s) and sensors for operations, maintenance, design, and asset management.

TASK 5:

  • Demonstrate, develop and implement enhanced testing of UAV-based thermal imaging for bridge deck structural integrity.
  • Compare data collected from UAV sensors to current data collected and systems used at MDOT for highway assets/operations.

TASK 6:

  • Demonstrate, develop, and implement systems management and operations uses.

TASK 7:

  • Provide a benefit/cost analysis and performance measures that define the return on investment as a result of deploying UAVs and related sensory technologies for transportation purposes.

TASK 8:

  • Secure a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Certificate of Authorization (COA) to complete the tasks and deliverables.
Colin N. Brooks
Colin N. Brooks
Tess Ahlborn
Tess Ahlborn
Timothy Havens
Timothy Havens
Thomas Oommen
Thomas Oommen
Kuilin Zhang
Kuilin Zhang