Evaluating and Implementing Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) into Bridge Management Methods Through Element-Level Data Collection

The objective of this research is to (1) determine which bridge element types are most suited to Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) assessment, (2) determine what types of required element-level bridge management data cannot be collected via UAS and compare to traditional methods, and (3) compare UAS collected element-level data to data collected by an inspector with respect to data type, quality, cost, time required, traffic impact, or other. There has been increasing interest and use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS, unmanned aerial vehicles / UAVs, or “drones”), especially in the past 10 years. One application of considerable interest to transportation agencies and their private sector partners is augmenting bridge inspections. There is particular interest in performing safety inspections of bridge members that are typically costly to routinely assess by an inspector. Through the use of UAS, the surface and subsurface of bridge decks can be assessed without requiring closing lanes of traffic or having inspectors exposed to traffic. For bridges over rivers or other water bodies, UAS can collect data underneath or along the fascia without the need to close traffic lanes to use a Snooper truck or similar system currently used for inspection of hard-to-access bridge elements. However, research has not yet focused on the ability of UAS to support collection of element-level data in accordance with the AASHTO Manual for Bridge Element Inspection (MBEI) criteria. There is a need for research on how UAS can be implemented for fast and repeatable collection of location-specific, element-level data to meet federal requirements and to support bridge owner maintenance and identification of preservation needs. This research will help foster innovation in bridge inspection. The results of this research can be used by transportation agencies as guidance on how to implement UAS where they can meet needs for accurate, and cost-efficient element-level data for bridge asset management.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $400000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 12-122

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Dekelbab, Waseem

  • Start Date: 20200811
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01739626
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 12-122
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: May 18 2020 3:06PM