EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENT OF BRIDGE MAINTENANCE AND INSPECTION BY AN UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE
The economic development and infrastructure of a nation are closely interrelated. In addition, public trust in national infrastructure facilities is closely linked to the preservation of the advantages provided by these facilities to the public. Current maintenance works face certain limitations caused by various reasons: insufficient budget, increasing number of infrastructure facilities requiring maintenance, shortage of manpower, and rapidly increasing number of aging infrastructure facilities. To overcome these limitations, a new approach is required that is different from manual inspection methods under the existing rules and regulations. In this context, this study aimed to explore the efficiency of bridge inspection and maintenance by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that could observe inaccessible areas, could be conveniently and easily controlled, and could offer high economic benefits. For which, various tests were performed on elevated bridges, and suitable UAV images were obtained. The obtained UAV images were inspected by using machine vision technology, thereby excluding subjective evaluations by humans. Methods for enhancing the objectivity of the inspection were also discussed. The test results showed that both the efficiency and objectivity of the proposed UAV-based method were better efficient than those of the existing bridge maintenance and inspection methods.