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Robotics technology used to automate bridge inspections

Researchers at the University of Waterloo have developed a new robotics system which has the ability to carry out detailed bridge inspections. The powerful robotics technology which combines lidar, cameras and autonomous robots to collect data for defect detection and analysis, makes critical bridge inspections less expensive and more reliable with higher quality information.

Bridge inspections, which are required to be carried out every few years by regulatory authorities for safety purposes, are done visually by inspectors.  This leaves room for human error but also more importantly creates additional costs as specialised equipment is relied upon for gaining accurate and reliable results.

The researchers at the University of Waterloo believe this robotic technology is much more beneficial as the results from one inspection can be overlaid on previous inspection results thus highlighting problematic areas of the bridge and therefore tracking defects that may evolve over time.

The success of the system has also paved the way for further research into robotics technology and infrastructure to assess where else improvements can be made on current manual inspection processes. Researchers are now looking into different A.I. algorithms and water-borne inspection platforms with the hope to automate analysis of data to accurately assess the structural integrity of infrastructure.

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