Meeting with UASSC about UAV bridge inspection by Joseph Phillips

We talked drone inspection of bridges. Above, beside, below, different kinds of bridges, At night, over people, roadways, that's an issue. Nights are important because thermal imaging works better in the evening, when the price increases at rental places, ha! Waivers and road clearances for drops or inspection. Waivers for crossing over a road. The most significant problem I have seen in PA is with the winter thaws. Water in the rock expands in the winter and cracks it, and when the ground thaws, the rocks tumble free of the slopes. Roads wash down hillsides. I would check the slopes around bridges. We have had incredible amounts of precipitation, even a tornado! last month. In Uniontown. 

From aerial survey, it might be possible to predict and assemble work schedules from precise measurements over time. 

One thing I was surprised no one talked about was using robotic craft to drive out on and over the ice on a winter's day or night to do checks on the bridge. 

I know it sounds crazy, but I wanted to test a five pound craft on the ice, so I made a gelatin puck about 10 inches in diameter, 2 inches tall and chucked it out onto the frozen river. The megapuck shot across the ice, and the ice held. I didn't want to pollute the river or spend any money. I used stuff no one would eat. I made it entertaining. 




Work with UASSC by Joseph Phillips

I am a volunteer in this network. Getting on a big UAS page will accelerate use of new bridge inspection technology like this. If you fly on the other side of the bridge you are going to lose signal as the main path, pylons, frame elements block the pilot's view. A hobby pilot can fly a drone. It's easy. Someone operating in the role as lead field tech could monitor the data and keep communication open to larger control structure through ICS, ATC, whatever.

There will be an inability to inspect all drones without the use of submersibles and drones. There are bridges that are partially or totally inaccessible after disasters. BVLOS is going to collapse the level of risk for infrastructure inspection. Up close, cheap, no bodies in the air. Or in the water. 

Differential thrust, redundant sensors allow for precise movement, but really large metal objects are a pain in the butt. They can cause loss of transmission. If you could reference the size of bolts or rivets on a bridge, you can get positional control from that . The same technology used to sync up a Pokemon player with a "shrine" uses something like a histogram to obtain a feature or class of features to obtain energize a relay to a motor or another field device. Using three drones in an area is like using repeaters for WiFi. Waves. A UAS can capture all the waves. I like all the waves.

My challenge is to evolve an automation process and advance standards in that task. That is really exciting to me! PA is full of bridges. Very hilly, and I live in a valley area along a river. Cheap inspection makes bridges cheaper, no better. IR sensors can train up to 3 mm, but at that distance you risk losing control, signal. Also, put a camera on top of the drone, a little Runcam or something.