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This Flying Robot Is the Newest Expert Inspecting Your City's Bridges

Testing the drone under a bridge.

A team from Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute and a team at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of Northeastern University have joined forces to develop a tabletop-sized drone that uses photo- and video-capture techniques,

Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Northeastern University have developed the Aerial Robotic Infrastructure Analyst (ARIA), a drone that uses photo- and video-capture techniques, and state-of-the-art laser scanners, to create a high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) model of a bridge, which can then be analyzed by an inspector on the ground.

"Using drones to scan bridges for structural problems could provide data on the conditions of the bridge without putting people in high-risk situations," says CMU professor Burcu Akinci.

However, ARIA is designed to be more than just a means of data gathering; as the drone flies autonomously around the bridge, it processes the data it gathers and provides feedback and suggestions to the inspector. After landing, the drone's onboard software uses the data to build a 3D model of the bridge that inspectors can use to accurately visualize the structure.

The researchers predict ARIA will be lead to other robotic infrastructure inspection technologies.

"The unique aspect of this team is that it combines the robotics perspective, the vision-based data processing perspective, and the civil engineering condition assessment and structural analysis perspectives," Akinci says.

From Carnegie Mellon University
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Abstracts Copyright © 2016 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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