Publications / 2017 Proceedings of the 34rd ISARC, Taipei, Taiwan

High Level Framework for Bridge Inspection Using LiDAR-Equipped UAV

Neshat Bolourian, Mohammad Mostafa Soltani, Amin Hammad and Ameen Albahri
Pages 683-688 (2017 Proceedings of the 34rd ISARC, Taipei, Taiwan, ISBN 978-80-263-1371-7, ISSN 2413-5844)

According to Statistics Canada, bridges in Canada have a service life of approximately 43 years. With the majority of bridges passing half of their expected service life, a large amount of investment needs to be made to inspect and maintain them in a safe condition. Manual inspection methods are both time-consuming and costly, which may discourage further inspections and follow-up of defects. As a result, there is a great need for using an automated data collection system. Surface defects (e.g. cracks) in concrete bridges can be inspected using 3D Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) scanner as a Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) method. However the commonly used terrestrial LiDAR is limited to stationary data collection, which reduces the accessibility to some components of the bridges. To tackle this limitation, a LiDAR attached to an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) provides more flexibility and accessibility for inspecting large surface areas without threatening inspectors’ safety. After providing a comprehensive literature review about the usage of UAVs and LiDAR for the inspection of different types of structures, this paper proposes a high level framework for bridge inspection using LiDAR-equipped UAV. The framework includes three main steps: (1) planning a collision-free optimized path with respect to the minimum cost and maximum coverage considering a variety of constrains and requirements related to the hardware and the inspection task, (2) detecting the surface defects based on the collected point clouds, and (3) analyzing the results for condition assessment.

Keywords: Bridge inspection, LiDAR-equipped UAV, Path planning