Drones Used to Inspect a Stone Arch Bridge in Minnesota

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Intel recently announced a collaboration with Collins Engineers and the Minnesota Department of Transportation that will see drones being used to inspect the Stone Arch Bridge. Intel announced the collaboration earlier this month and they say that theyy plan to use the drones to evaluate the historic bridge and determine if any repairs are necessary. The bridge will join a list of other structures in the state that are also being inspected by drones.

Though drones have been used to inspect bridges before, this will be the first time that a drone has been used to inspect the Stone Arch Bridge, said Jennifer Well, the state bridge inspection engineer. According to Wells, the Stone Arch Bridge was chosen because it’s an old icon of the city and needs a lot of work due to its age. The bridge inspectors will use drones to take high resolution images of every part of the bridge. The images will then be used to create a 3D model allowing the department to know exactly which part to focus on during repairs.

Although the plan was publicly announced just a couple of weeks ago, work has already begun. A drone had already taken images of the bridge in October, but the full bridge inspection season will not start until the coming spring. The Stone Arch Bridge is the perfect candidate for the use of drones due to its size and location. It’s a long bridge, so there is a lot of area to cover during inspections. The bridge is also constructed out of a lot of mortar, which takes longer to inspect and document.

Drones make inspections a lot easier and faster as they can access parts of the bridge where people would have trouble accessing. The drones can also be used to inspect the bridge at any time without having to shut it down to traffic. According to Wells, drones will help save millions in taxpayer money since they greatly save on the time and money used during inspections. They will also save inspectors from having to risk their lives while trying to gain access to some hard-to-reach parts of the bridge. The Intel drone is set to be used for other structure inspections across the state after receiving a federal grant.

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