Autonomous Navigation and Geotagging for Concrete Bridge Deck Inspections with the RABIT Robotic Platform

Automating and accelerating the data collection process for bridge decks is a necessity for the safe, cost-effective, and timely monitoring of the health of large populations of bridges. This paper describes the deployment of localization and navigation techniques onto an automated robotic system designed for rapid nondestructive evaluation (NDE) of concrete bridge decks. The system, named RABIT (Robot Assisted Bridge Inspection Tool), features holonomic driving and carries several sensor arrays encapsulating a range of different NDE technologies. Paired with a Real Time Kinematic (RTK) base station, RABIT’s position is localized through GNSS calculations down to a resolution of only two inches. This is augmented with on-board navigation sensors such as inertial measurement units (IMU), encoders, and a laser scanner to allow for automated path following, collision avoidance, and accurate geotagging of each sensor’s data. The efficacy of these methods are demonstrated through extensive experiments and field deployments.


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