- Publication no: ABC2017-131-17
- Published: 26 April 2017
VicRoads manages a significant number of structures where access for inspection is difficult due to height, length and the obstacle being crossed; for example deep water. In order to gain access for close-up visual inspection of these structures, the normal procedure has been to use an underbridge access unit or a boat, both of which are potentially hazardous, time-consuming and costly. In order to address some of the limitations of conventional bridge inspection methods, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was used to inspect a bridge in VicRoads North Eastern Region in 2015. Building on this trial, a series of three trial UAV inspections was conducted in June 2016 in order to further investigate and develop the accuracy, effectiveness and safety of UAV inspections. This paper describes the trial inspections and their methodologies using different UAV equipment on four bridges located in VicRoads North Eastern Region. Evaluation of the results of the trial UAV inspections suggests that using UAVs for bridge inspections is a safe, compliant and cost-effective methodology that can be used to conduct visual inspections and as an aid to more detailed investigations. There are still some limitations such as difficulty in identifying defects and operating in more extreme weather conditions such as strong winds.