Bridge inspection carried out using drone technology

We used a confined space drone to carry out a detail inspection of a bridge. The use of drones mitigates the risk of working at height and provides a detailed visual inspection of its condition. Traditionally when inspecting bridges, the choice is between using an aerial work platform (AWP) or under bridge inspection vehicle, ladders or rope access. This choice is dependent on the type of bridge, the access needed and ability to close lanes of traffic.

Due to the deterioration of bridges and the legal requirements to inspect them on a regular basis, a more efficient and cost effective alternative for bridge inspections is available via the use of drone technology compared to traditional methods.

Some bridge structures are located over water or are not accessible by engineers so using drone technology to carry out these inspections saves a huge amount of time and money, provides actionable digital data and greatly improves health and safety by not putting people in harm’s way.

Drones can be used to help engineers gather far more detail than conventional methods. Drones can be flown close to structures and get into areas that might be difficult or impossible to reach using traditional methods. The digital data gathered by drones can be used to generate very detailed 2D and 3D models of bridges using photogrammetry. These models can be very useful in identifying defects and drawing those defects onto CAD models. In general, drones can access almost any part of the bridge, including the sides, top and underside, better than a person working from a platform or hanging from a rope.

This bridge inspection project was carried out in one day and the onsite engineer used a second monitor to view the data live, he was really impressed with the level of detail and ability to inspect all parts of the structure easily.

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