DOT Deploys Bridge Inspection Robot

Its first work will be done on 24 bridges in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

On the same day last week when the nation’s news media were riveted by the collapse of an I-5 highway bridge in Washington state and what that might tell us about the state of America's infrastructure, the Federal Highway Administration deployed a new robot to help inspect the structural integrity of concrete bridge decks. Created in partnership with Rutgers University, the robot will save time and money and uses imaging technologies that will give human inspectors "more accurate information, in real time, on the deck's overall health," FHWA's news release stated.

The technologies allow inspectors to see inside the bridge deck and obtain more detailed information about the condition of the concrete and the rebar.

"This technology is helping bridge owners make smarter investment decisions," said FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez. "It's about providing real-world solutions through innovation."

The first deployment will cover 24 bridges in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. During the next five years, the agency's goal is to use the robot on as many as 1,000 bridges nationwide.

It is part of the Long-Term Bridge Performance Program, an FHWA research initiative in partnership with the Rutgers University Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation to collect and analyze data on a representative sample of bridges around the country to understand how they react under certain conditions. FHWA will use the data to increase its understanding of concrete bridge deck deterioration from corrosion, weight, and other factors.

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