There are over 590,000 bridges dispersed across the roadway network that stretches across the United States alone. Each bridge with a length of 20 feet or greater must be inspected at least once every 24 months, according to the Federal Highway Act (FHWA) of 1968. This research developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-based framework for bridge and road inspection using drones with multiple sensors collecting capabilities. It is not sufficient to conduct inspections of bridges and roads using cameras alone, so the research team utilized an infrared (IR) camera along with a high-resolution optical camera. In many instances, the IR camera can provide more details to the interior structural damages of a bridge or a road surface than an optical camera, which is more suitable for inspecting damages on the surface of a bridge or a road. In addition, the drone inspection system is equipped with a minicomputer that runs Machine Learning algorithms. These algorithms enable autonomous drone navigation, image capture of the bridge or road structure, and analysis of the images. Whenever any damage is detected, the location coordinates are saved. Thus, the drone can self-operate and carry out the inspection process using advanced AI algorithms developed by the research team. The experimental results reveal the system can detect potholes with an average accuracy of 84.62% using the visible light camera and 95.12% using a thermal camera. This developed bridge and road inspection framework can save time, money, and lives by automating and having drones conduct major inspection operations in place of humans.

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Publication Type



Transportation Technology

Digital Object Identifier


MTI Project



artificial intelligence, machine learning, drones, bridge inspection, infrastructure


Computer-Aided Engineering and Design | Structural Engineering | Transportation Engineering