Inspection Trials of Delaware Memorial Bridge Using Drone Technology

Delaware Drone Bridge Inspection

This post originally appeared on UAS VISION.


[Editor’s Note: Drones are saving time and money when it comes to bridge inspections. In the past, when drones weren’t used, annual inspection costs for Authority bridges could exceed $500,000.]

The Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) recently conducted an inspection of the Delaware Memorial Bridge Twin Span using an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) or drone. Keystone Aerial Surveys, Inc., based at Northeast Philadelphia Airport, in cooperation with WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff, utilized an Inspire Pro 1 and Maverik X8 to perform the inspection services for DRBA as a test of the technology. The test inspection flights occurred on the New Jersey side of the Bridge complex on Tuesday, April 5. 

“The Delaware Memorial Bridge Twin Span is subjected to a rigorous inspection program every year,” said Shekhar Scindia, DRBA project engineer. “Drones have the potential for making bridge inspection operations significantly safer and more cost efficient.” He added that the annual inspection costs of the Authority bridges at times exceeds $500,000.

“We are pleased to able to work with the DRBA on this project,” said David Day, Executive Vice President of Keystone Aerial Surveys. “We feel confident that our technology can be used to improve and enhance their regular bridge inspection processes.”

This inspection tested the viability of using drones to inspect areas of the Bridge that are hard to access. The drone obtained video and still imagery within a concrete anchorage, externally of a concrete pier, and of the bridge’s steel cable and superstructure. The DRBA will assess the relative quality of the data recorded and the operational conditions, compared to traditional methods.

The use of drone technology may enable inspections to occur in less time, for less money, at better quality and with significantly reduced lane closure requirements.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Cape May County, NJ airport – KWWD, operated by the DRBA, has also hosted drone research campaigns. “Working with our partners in Cape May County, the DRBA has established Cape May County airport as a venue for collaboration and innovation in the UAS field,” said Scott A. Green, DRBA Executive Director. “Today’s test of the use of drones for bridge inspections at the Delaware Memorial Bridge is a case of putting our money where our mouth is.”

The DRBA has been actively engaged in safe drone research and development as a member of The Cape May County NJ UAS Innovation Forum and The Delaware UAS Task Force.


Top Photo: Keystone pilot Daniel Payn manoeuvres the Inspire Pro 1 beneath the road deck of the Delaware-bound span of the Delaware Memorial Bridge to begin the inspection process.

Middle Photo: An image from the drone beneath the Delaware-bound span taken from streaming video displayed on a LED monitor at the site.

Source: Press Release

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