The use of drones has permeated many parts of our society. Many industries have found drone technology useful, including agriculture, emergency rescue, wildlife conservation, and urban planning. Another valuable task for drones is bridge inspection. Their ability to access hard-to-reach superstructure sections has become a go-to option for many bridge inspectors in their reconnaissance and planning efforts.
Bridge drones are typically equipped with HD cameras and proximity sensors to provide high-quality and detailed images which engineers can use to identify defects, wear, and potential access concerns. The increasing use of drones has added additional technologies to their output, including the use of analytics, artificial intelligence, and 3-D imaging that can show cracks, spalls, wear, delamination, and rust.
Drones provide a quicker, safer, and inexpensive alternative solution for assisting inspection of a wide range of bridges. Though their use does not satisfy the hands-on requirement of fracture critical inspections, their use in planning and gathering data on intermittent inspections saves time and provides additional data. They’re also helpful to inspect bridges quickly for defects after natural disasters or accidents, providing faster mobilization and visual assessment of the structure.