Civil and Environmental Engineering


Date of this Version



Nasimi, R.; Moreu, F.; Fricke, G.M. Sensor Equipped UAS for Non-Contact Bridge Inspections: Field Application. Sensors 2023, 23, 470. s23010470


Open access.


In the future, sensors mounted on uncrewed aerial systems (UASs) will play a critical role in increasing both the speed and safety of structural inspections. Environmental and safety concerns make structural inspections and maintenance challenging when conducted using traditional methods, especially for large structures. The methods developed and tested in the laboratory need to be tested in the field on real-size structures to identify their potential for full implementation. This paper presents results from a full-scale field implementation of a novel sensor equipped with UAS to measure non-contact transverse displacement from a pedestrian bridge. To this end, the authors modified and upgraded a low-cost system that previously showed promise in laboratory and small-scale outdoor settings so that it could be tested on an in-service bridge. The upgraded UAS system uses a commodity drone platform, low-cost sensors including a laser range-finder, and a computer vision-based algorithm with the aim of measuring bridge displacements under load indicative of structural problems. The aim of this research is to alleviate the costs and challenges associated with sensor attachment in bridge inspections and deliver the first prototype of a UAS-based non-contact out-of-plane displacement measurement. This work helps to define the capabilities and limitations of the proposed low-cost system in obtaining non-contact transverse displacement in outdoor experiments.