Researchers Explore Drones as Bridge Inspection Tools

University-Made UAVs May Make Infrastructure Safer, Less Costly

Let’s hear it for the drones.

Luis Otero, an associate professor at Florida Tech’s Systems Engineering Department is exploring how a combination of cameras and remote laser sensors attached to unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) could be used to inspect railways and bridges.

The technology, which uses specialized UAVs designed and constructed at Florida Tech, uses the collected data to make a series of 3D model for comparison over time to detect any deviations in the structure.

The project is so promising that the Florida Department of Transportation is funding Otero’s research for proof of concept.

The FDOT inspects approximately 7,000 bridges and 4,300 mast poles every two years. Currently, bridge inspections are tedious and require lots of labor and specialized equipment and pole inspections take weeks to perform and require lane closures on major highways. Otero’s idea could cut down on the manpower needed to preform inspections and curtail expensive delays in traffic and transportation times.

Take a look at the video above to see these awesome vehicles made at Florida Tech by Dennis Dalli, an instructor of Aviation Science and Technology, with help from Nicholas Gagliardo, a PhD student in systems engineering.

Associate Professor Luis Otero, Nicholas Gagliardo, a PhD student in systems engineering and Dennis Dalli, an instructor of Aviation Science and Technology are researching drones used as inspection tools for infrastructure.


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