Bridge Inspection with UAVs

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by bridgeinspector, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. bridgeinspector

    bridgeinspector New Member

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    Location:
    Tennessee
    I am an engineer from Tennessee. I am very new to multirotors.
    I am investigating the potential usefulness of UAVs for bridge inspections in hard to reach areas.

    There is very little video on the web that show how they may be used for this purpose. A few large companies of very expensive RTF drones mention the use for bridge inspections but none have adequate video or photos proving the ability to do inspections. Aibotix is the only one that comes close to video examples and they are not proof of possible replacement/supplement to traditional bridge inspection.

    Does anyone know of a company or videos doing a good job of showing the worth of multirotors for this application?

    Thanks!




    Also, I am considering building a quadcopter to experiment with the possibility of using them for bridge inspections. (may need to start a thread for this)
    Requirements:
    Steady hovers close to bridge components (beams, piers, truss members), GPS does not work well under bridges, so sonar,barometer, etc required
    Live viewing (FPV system)
    Photos (very clear)
    Video (HD with possible sound recording from operator, as to narrate the part of bridge being viewed)
    Propeller protection (do to proximity of objects and public)

    and possibly
    Camera tilt for up/forward/down viewing
    Lights for darkened areas (or camera with flash)
     
  2. kloner

    kloner Aerial DP

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    when you talk about bridges and gps all i think about is a failure.

    are you using lidar to inspect it or what kind of camera if not? how heavy?
     
  3. bridgeinspector

    bridgeinspector New Member

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    The more I looked into it, the GPS options are not useful for this application. (unless you install your own GPS Stations on the ground, too much cost and trouble)
    Any digital camera would work. A lightweight GoPro type would work as long as it did well in low light or used with lights/flash. It would need to be a high resolution image that can be enlarged for viewing later. Seeing what you are to take a photo of would also be important (live feed).
     
  4. SMP

    SMP Member

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    Bridge,

    We are commercial photographers who have recently entered into the aerial multi-rotor business. We did so because there are applications where Multirotors are far more cost effective and I think Aibotix has done a fantastic job of illustrating these. I can tell you however that there IS a substantial learning curve in actually getting these safely in the air and working. My concern is simply that Aibotix seems to dramatically understate the "pilot" element. Their approach seems to be; take 30 minutes training, plan a waypoint mission, touch the go button on the tablet and off it flies. This is definitively not the case and candidly their video of the gentleman on the golf course is indicative of same. Additionally the "crash test" seemed to me to be pilot error and only the fact that the copter is encased allowed it to fly away. Congratulations to Aibotix for pushing the envelope in marketing to commercial applications, however there is still not a place in that market for untrained and inexperienced pilots, ourselves included.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2013
  5. Droider

    Droider Active Member

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    Aye Up Bridgeinspector, welcome to MRF.

    I use my ADX3 and F450 for inspections of everything. From church spires to flare stacks.. oh and bridges. I have no problems with GPS but I can also fly. either video or stills aint a problem. ZOOM control means you can get in close with out getting in close. Even as a pre- send in the guys to take a closer look they are an invaluable tool. To deploy a team of roped access guys to get to hard parts just to have a look is expensive and the health and safety issues can be a nightmare. After all that mither they find everything is OK, take a picture or two to prove the inspection and pull site. I know I was one of those guys!. MultiRotors are a invaluable first line tool to structural inspection engineers that can save the client a lot lot money.

    Dave
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2013
  6. bridgeinspector

    bridgeinspector New Member

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    Droider (Dave),

    Do you have a link to video/photos samples of bridge inspection work?

    Thanks

     
  7. Lanzar

    Lanzar Member

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    Hello,

    This is totaly doable. I could also do a video demostration off it. But you need to be a hell of a FPV flyer to go in those tight corners and out.
    It is all practise and so on. Well if we have time i will try to record one bridge, pillar from river and up and some undercarage off the bridge.
     
  8. helloman1976

    helloman1976 Ziptie Relocation Expert

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    Hey and welcome... Please understand that first and foremost these aren't toys and they are complicated as heck which I'm sure you already understand but should be said when just getting started at least. We're pretty protective of this hobby in the sense that we all push responsibility in flying as to avoid getting this great hobby taken away from us by our big Uncle. That being said, you're going to have to be careful with interference from the bridges and I'd recommend using UHF for the transmission side if you plan on flying around the backside of a bridge, if you will. Also, you're going to want a very good video system and possibly antenna tracking just to maintain a crystal clear picture when flying close to objects as a few seconds of lost time easily equals a bad situation or crash. Keep in mind there is no ZOOM feature so you fly in and out to get closer and what-not. If you want stability it's an Octocopter but those are expensive, a Hexacopter is nice and good for inbetween Quads, which are toys in this game, and Octo's which are for the pros really. GPS does not work under a bridge true and I dont know of any manufactured sonar systems but one can easily be built with common robot parts. Take a look at something like the DJI S800 and I'm sure there are others on here who are real professionals who can steer you closer to where you need to be, hope that helps though. :)
     
  9. Droider

    Droider Active Member

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    I could post a real embarrassing incident! Well actually it prooved how not to do a bridge inspection!

    heres an example of a church spire

    [​IMG]

    And a clock face

    [​IMG]

    These where done as examples of what we could do. Everything else we have done for clients is their property and we cannot publish. I am sure Lanzar will demonstrate the possibilities and I will if I can get time this week to do some independent examples.

    But its more than doable.

    Its bread and butter stuff as far as I am concerned.

    Dave



     
  10. bridgeinspector

    bridgeinspector New Member

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    Thanks Dave! Some real examples would be helpful.
     

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