As part of the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT's) ongoing mission to improve and evaluate its operations and to assess the usefulness and functionality of new technologies, it this week is utilizing an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), more commonly known as a drone, to perform limited visual bridge inspection tasks on the Gold Star Memorial Bridge.
The testing process will gauge the ability of the UAV to provide access to, as well as to photograph areas of the bridges that are typically difficult to reach via traditional means such as snooper-trucks or ropes and climbers. And if succesful could further usher in an era of drones being used for rail maintenance as well as security and analysis.
The Gold Star Memorial Bridge consist of two distinct structures carrying I-95 northbound and southbound respectively over the Thames River between Groton and New London. The structures are the longest bridges in the state at roughly one-mile each, with the main spans rising approximately 100-feet over the Thames River. In October of 2015, the CTDOT completed a full routine inspection of the Gold Star Memorial Bridges using lifts, snooper-trucks, and ropes and climbers.
Upon completion of the UAV test inspection activities, the CTDOT will perform an analysis of the results, including the advantages and disadvantages of the system and its effectiveness at gathering detailed information in comparison to previous conventional inspections. The outcome of the review will help determine the potential for UAV bridge inspection technologies to improve upon or supplement bridge inspection processes on select structures throughout the state.
“This is an important step for our agency – the testing of a new technology with the potential to improve results, efficiencies, and safety for the public,” said Commissioner James P. Redeker. “The willingness to examine new technologies - to innovate and to keep an open mind - is critical if we are to find better ways of doing business, and I applaud the Department’s Bridge Safety Division for initiating this test.”
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