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Multispectral Aerial Imaging for Infrastructure Evaluation

Infrastructure evaluation is currently performed through visual inspection by experienced and trained inspection personnel. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have the potential to permanently transform infrastructure assessment. UAVs can access difficult to reach areas and collect high resolution images and carry different sensing modalities. Researchers at Drexel University are exploring the potential of UAVs for infrastructure assessment. Among the tests conducted, a portable infrared thermography (IRT) was performed to map a mock up bridge deck for the identification of subsurface delamination. High resolution images were also taken to plot the visual image of the whole deck for surface crack identification. Another test using a manned helicopter performed an inspection of a long span bridge using multispectral images. These multispectral aerial images were collected using both infrared (IR) and RGB camera during scanning the bridge superstructure. Global views of the bridge using both sets of images were created with an image stitching algorithm. The global views are qualitative, but with enhanced algorithms leveraging GPS data, the technique will allow to locate damage in infrastructure, such as deterioration in bridge decks.

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