Worcestershire County in the UK has started trialing high-tech drones fitted with cameras to carry out bridge inspections. The county is home to around 1,500 bridge structures.
According to the Worcestershire County Council, innovative bridge inspections are being carried out in partnership with contractors Jacobs and Ringway. Using drones is helping the county to thoroughly inspect bridge structures in better, safer, more cost-effective, and recordable ways.
The first bridge inspection of its kind took place earlier this month at Mildenham canal bridge in Claines using a DJI M300 RTK drone. Equipped with a next-gen collision avoidance system and featuring an AI-powered Spot Check feature for long-term change detection, the M300 is considered the gold standard in asset management and inspections.
In Worcestershire County, the drone is operated by a dedicated professional pilot, while the camera payload is controlled by a bridge inspector so they can focus on any areas of interest easily. By using the drone in areas where access would usually be very difficult to reach, such as over water or at height, the risk to inspectors is minimized, and the inspection can be carried out effectively.
Councillor Mike Rouse, Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, says:
It is fantastic to see that we have started to trial drone technology. This could contribute greatly towards helping us inspect and maintain bridges in a much more efficient way, proving a huge benefit to road users in Worcestershire.
Rouse further explains that the county has around 1,500 bridge structures, and if they are closed for inspections time and again, it inconveniences residents and businesses alike.
“We are committed to bringing this innovation forward to help us better manage our bridges and potentially other structural assets too such as culverts,” says Rouse. “This will help us get the maximum value from our budget. The use of drones will not in any way replace the judgment of our professional structures engineers but could lead to a more efficient and safer way of making inspections.’’
Read: UK approves agricultural drone spraying ops for the first time