The project achieves through research including literature, on site interviews, and experimentation: 1) a recommendation for a UAV-based system to practically assist in routine bridge inspection work in the State of Louisiana, 2) the identification and description of advantages, disadvantages, and limitations in the use of UAVs for routing bridge inspection work in Louisiana, and 3) provided recommendations for future work. The Yuneec H520 aircraft and its E90 camera are recommended, as is the need for a boat to be included as part of the system. The recommended system has advantages in reaching portions of the bridge that are difficult to reach by human inspectors and includes sufficient image resolution to assist the bridge inspection process. A disadvantage though, is that of the overburden of regulations both from the FAA and for getting permission to inspect a bridge using a UAV. These regulations my render negligible, any gains in efficiency perceived in the use of UAVs for bridge inspection. Also, the UAV is described by the project as an assistance tool for the manual bridge inspection process and cannot replace the needed work of bridge inspectors, as it has limitations. For example, the UAV cannot perform inspections beneath the bridge deck since it may lose its GPS navigation reference. Likewise, it cannot see beneath the surface to tell of concrete components have subsurface cracks or timbers might be hollow. These tests are still the domain of manual bridge inspection. The project provided recommendations with respect to changes in how inspections should be done using the UAV, i.e. in the pre-inspection phase, needed field studies using the UAV, needed economics alternative-tradeoffs studies, and recommendations for augmenting the aircraft and its instruments. The Second phase, i.e. the Implementation Phase, will utilize the information and educational fruits of the technical research phase for tutorials, seminars and to facilitate feedback surveys with engineering firms, the LADOTD, engineering societies, and students.
Darby, Paul and Gopu, Vijaya, "Bridge Inspecting with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles R&D" (2018). Publications. 14.