Railroad Bridge Inspection Using Drone-Based Digital Image Correlation
Continuous railroad operations on aging railway infrastructure requires systematic and effective inspection. Visual inspections are time consuming and can lead to inconsistent results. In a research project conducted between April 2021 and June 2022, the University of South Carolina (UofSC) developed and tested a new uncrewed aircraft system (UAS, or drone) for structural inspections. A stereo digital image correlation system (StereoDIC) on this drone made noncontact measurements of deformation and stress on infrastructure. With support from CSX Transportation (CSX), UofSC tested the system on a railroad bridge in Columbia, SC. Project results show that this type of system may be useful for inspecting railroad bridges and other structures.