Simulation Based Cost-Benefit Analysis for the Inspection of Highway Bridges using Small Unmanned Aerial Systems
Kadamkulangara Balagopalan, Rashmi
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Visual inspections remain significantly important in surveying the present decay and deterioration status of bridge inspections. These inspections are critical to conduct patch-up remedies and maintenance assignments to guarantee the continued serviceability of structures. Given the high inventory of bridges nationwide (over of 600,000 bridges), increasing costs of bridge inspections are becoming a concern for departments of transportation (DOTs). The conventional inspection method is costly due to various factors. For example, the current approach often requires specialized equipment (e.g., bucket trucks) to conduct underside bridge inspections that significantly affect safety levels on the field and overall costs, and inspectors need to coordinate traffic control via maintenance of traffic (MOT) activities. As an alternative to the conventional bridge inspection approach, the academic community have been conducting research to understand the feasibility of using unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for bridge inspections. Therefore, there is a need to develop studies to assist transportation decision-makers in deciding which bridge inspection method –conventional versus UAS—will be best suitable for particular bridges. This thesis work provides a first-step approach to develop such decision-support system based on overall inspection costs. Discrete event simulation coupled with resource-based costing are used as tools for the approach presented in this thesis.