Towards Autonomous Drone-Based Dynamic and Seismic Response Monitoring of Bridges

Project Information
Link to the Latest: June 2022 Progress Report


Several global technologies are on the rise such as aerial robotics, which are commonly referred to as unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or simply “drones”. Many of the critical lifelines and infrastructure systems such as bridge networks or power grids and transmission lines have taken serious steps towards adopting UAVs for regular maintenance and inspection. Using bridges as one example of critical infrastructure systems, we find that a large deal of research studies has been sponsored, mostly through various Departments of Transportation (DOTs), to use UAVs for visual bridge inspections. However, none of the ongoing or emerging efforts have properly considered the use of UAVs for dynamic vibration and structural system identification of bridges or other infrastructure systems, nor considered real-time or near real-time structural assessment in the case of extreme events such as earthquakes. Future applications of UAVs to rapidly inform post-disaster decisions such as assessing a bridge condition to open it for traffic or not would be of great importance, which is the specific motivation of this project.


The specific objectives of this project are: (1) validate and verify (V&V) the use of UAVs videos along with principles of digital image correlation (DIC) and target-tracking for dynamic displacement measurements and structural health monitoring (SHM); and (2) provide foundational work towards establishing the done-based inspection framework such as exploring target-based and targetless UAVs vibration monitoring, exploring feasibility of two- versus three-dimensional (2D vs. 3D) and one vs. two UAVs-based measurements.


The following tasks will be performed to achieve the project objectives:

Task 1 – Synthesis of existing methods and technologies towards building a fully or semi-autonomous UAV-based infrastructure dynamic response monitoring and assessment framework
Task 2 – UAV-based displacement measurement accuracy (V&V tests)
Task 3 – Large-scale seismic monitoring test framework validation
Task 4 – Results dissemination and Final Report

Research Team:
Principal Investigator: Dr. Mohamed Moustafa
Research Assistant: Dr. Luna Ngeljaratan

Previous Progress Report: