Inspecting Sharjah’s Major Bridges using Drones

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Inspecting Sharjah’s Major Bridges using Drones

MOID (Ministry of Infrastructure Development) needed to inspect three of the bridges in Sharjah, connecting the Emirate to Fujairah and Al Ain. Consultants Rouros brought on FEDS to conduct all three inspections. Potentially taking two weeks to inspect, this time was cut down to just two days using drones. FEDS delivered detailed reports on each bridge’s status, analyzing signs of damage or deterioration and severity at each instance.
If you haven't read our blogpost on Bridge Inspections, click here.

Traditional Inspections offer limited visibility at a high-cost point. The core of bridges and its features are often difficult to access, significantly limiting the methods of inspection available. In the past, suppose you wanted to conduct thorough, detailed inspections, you would have to employ the use of one or a combination of the following: rope, snooper truck, aerial lifts or specialized equipment. The classic inspection methods pose a severe hazard to its inspectors; a simple malfunction of the equipment can lead to fatal accidents.

Drone Technology can mitigate a lot of these risks and conduct inspections in one-third of the time necessary while being more cost-effective and producing better data. 

Conventionally inspections had to be carried out by direct eyesight from ground level, or by using specialized trucks with lifting platforms which can cost upwards of $250,000. These specialized trucks also require at least one lane of traffic to be shut down to use, and even then accidents can happen that endanger the lives of inspectors and civilians. Even with specialized equipment, it is a challenge to move the truck onto inspection sites and manoeuvre the platform to assess the bridge effectively.
The team inspected all three major bridges in two days, with zero risks posed to inspectors and zero disruption of traffic. Using Drone Data signs of deterioration and damages were effectively identified and analyzed.

Rouros also needed to inspect the relieving slabs supporting the bridge; typically this is achieved by constructing scaffolding that enables an inspector to climb into the tight space between the bridge’s underside and abutment to inspect the relieving slab. Given that this entire process is time-consuming, dangerous and expensive, drones were brought onboard to optimize the inspection operations.

The drones used for this mission were the DJI M210. To effectively analyze the bridge’s underside, the M210’s top-mounted payload was used to fly in tight spaces with minimal risk of damage. 

The team initially was apprehensive about flying drones in close proximity to the bridge and underneath where the metal and thick concrete would interfere with the drone’s GPS systems. But using the DJI’s dual operator system, skilled FEDS pilots flew the drone manually, one pilot could focus on flying the drone itself and a second pilot could control the payload(camera) separately.

The FEDS team took oblique aerial videos first, which converted into 3D reality captures. The captures would help the inspectors gain an overview of the bridge and its immediate surroundings. The team would document the condition of the bridge looking for signs of corrosion, erosion, cracks and damages. Then the drone flown manually would take about 300-400 photos per bridge. The high-resolution images would be used to generate detailed inspection reports. 

Without the involvement of drones, the inspections would have taken a much longer time to conduct, presenting danger to the inspectors and civilians. Even though the traditional method is more expensive; the data produced would have been inferior to that of drone data.

The team inspected all three major bridges in two days, with zero risks posed to inspectors and zero disruption of traffic. Using Drone Data signs of deterioration and damages were effectively identified and analyzed. With the detailed reports provided, the client can then effectively plan their repair and maintenance operations.

If you’re looking for an inspection solution that can produce better results, in a shorter time at a more competitive cost-point- please feel free to get in touch with us. We’d be happy to organize a personalized cost-free consultation for you.


About the author

Niiveth Mani




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