Bridge Inspection Using Drone Technology

Bridge inspection using drone technology has been heralded as the next big thing. Using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, to perform inspections on bridges will reduce costs and minimize risks to the inspectors.

Bridge inspection using drone technology

Schemmer uses drones to aid the inspection of bridges where it serves to provide safety to the inspector and reach areas otherwise unreachable. A recent example of this level of drone use can be seen in our inspection of the LIED trail bridge over the Platte River following devastating floods in 2019. The fast-moving current and immense tree debris made access from below unsafe. The drone provided our inspectors a view under the bridge, particularly the condition of the girder bearings, allowing for a complete condition assessment of the bridge, expediting the design of repairs.

Looking ahead: Drones for Bridge Inspections

Previously, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has restricted the use of drones for some types of bridge inspections. Today there is a DRAFT edition of Specifications for the National Bridge Inventory advocating for the use of drones during the inspection of bridges. The DRAFT was published in October 2019 for comments. The comment period ended in March 2020 and is now in final review. It is anticipated that the use of drones will move forward on bridge inspections to provide safer and higher quality inspections.

To learn more about bridge inspections using drone technology, or to have your bridge inspected, contact Darin Brown, PE, Schemmer’s Bridge Manager.

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