Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction


Date of this Version



Infrastructures 2019, 4, 72


© 2019 by the authors.

Open access



Small unmanned aerial system(s) (sUAS) are rapidly emerging as a practical means of performing bridge inspections. Under the right condition, sUAS assisted inspections can be safer, faster, and less costly than manned inspections. Many Departments of Transportation in the United States are in the early stages of adopting this emerging technology. However, definitive guidelines for the selection of equipment for various types of bridge inspections or for the possible challenges during sUAS assisted inspections are absent. Given the large investments of time and capital associated with deploying a sUAS assisted bridge inspection program, a synthesis of authors experiences will be useful for technology transfer between academics and practitioners. In this paper, the authors list the challenges associated with sUAS assisted bridge inspection, discuss equipment and technology options suitable for mitigating these challenges, and present case studies for the application of sUAS to several specific bridge inspection scenarios. The authors provide information to sUAS designers and manufacturers who may be unaware of the specific challenges associated with sUAS assisted bridge inspection. As such, the information presented here may reveal the demands in the design of purpose-built sUAS inspection platforms.