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Journal of Civil Structural Health Monitoring


Springer Berlin Heidelberg

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Unmanned aerial systems (UASs) have become of considerable private and commercial interest for a variety of jobs and entertainment in the past 10 years. This paper is a literature review of the state of practice for the United States bridge inspection programs and outlines how automated and unmanned bridge inspections can be made suitable for present and future needs. At its best, current technology limits UAS use to an assistive tool for the inspector to perform a bridge inspection faster, safer, and without traffic closure. The major challenges for UASs are satisfying restrictive Federal Aviation Administration regulations, control issues in a GPS-denied environment, pilot expenses and availability, time and cost allocated to tuning, maintenance, post-processing time, and acceptance of the collected data by bridge owners. Using UASs with self-navigation abilities and improving image-processing algorithms to provide results near real-time could revolutionize the bridge inspection industry by providing accurate, multi-use, autonomous three-dimensional models and damage identification.