University of Twente Student Theses


The use of unmanned aerial vehicles to inspect bridges for Rijkswaterstaat.

Jongerius, A.C. (2018) The use of unmanned aerial vehicles to inspect bridges for Rijkswaterstaat.

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Abstract:Within the Netherlands there are different types of bridge inspections that are conducted; from a small daily inspection to a full structure examination every six years. Within this full structure examination, every aspect of the bridge is being checked and damages are being identified. (Rijkswaterstaat, 2015) The process of using this damage identification and interpretation is referred to as structural health monitoring (SHM)(Farrar & Worden, 2007). In a general sense: structural health monitoring is used to analyse the physical fitness of our infrastructure. Because of labour intensity and the objects’ unavailability for users during some parts of the full structure inspection, Rijkswaterstaat (RWS) is considering alternative methods of data collection. One of these methods is using a drone to conduct (parts of) the field data collection, as they could be less labour intensive and provide less obstruction for the user during inspection. In this research we first create an overview of what is known in literature about the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for bridge inspection. This information is supplemented with expert views obtained by the use of interviews. Next, a conventional bridge inspection report is analysed and a case study is executed to gather information about the feasibility of using UAVs to replicate the obtained results. The comparison will also give a complete overview on the limitations and possible areas of improvement. We obtain that the quality of the imagery of present-day UAV’s is comparable with imagery taken during conventional inspections. Besides that, a UAV can store multiple sensors and by this can gather additional information to furthermore improve the quality of asset management. However, UAV’s are not able to inspect all parts of the bridge structure and are frankly not efficient on all parts of the structure. When using a UAV to inspect the surface or upper structures, in close distance to the bridge, full closure of the object is necessary. This makes the deployment of a UAV annoying for the users of the object. As well as from literature and interviews we find that the visual inspection of full structure inspections could be executed up to five times faster using a UAV. The post-processing of the conventional visual inspection takes little time, as the amount of data is limited to the found damages. UAV’s will also gather data on structurally saint parts of the structure. During post-processing, the data needs to be filtered to just the specific damages. From this study, we obtain that UAV use for SHM data collection is a wildly studied alternative for conventional inspection methods. This study shows that indeed UAV’s could prove to be a new, faster, cheaper, safer and more complete way of collecting data for SHM. Yet it also showed that a complete substitute for conventional methods is not possible, as additional research and access to certain locations is always a factor. There are also difficulties in post proccing of the UAV acquired field data. Due to strict legislation and limitations by external factors such as weather and battery life, deployment of UAV’s is a complex undertaking and requires specific knowledge.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:56 civil engineering
Programme:Civil Engineering BSc (56952)
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