Drone Aided Machine-Learning Tool for Post-Earthquake Bridge Damage Reconnaissance

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Ma Z
Zhao E
Granello G
Loporcaro G

After a high-intensity seismic event, inspections of structural damages need to be carried out as soon as possible in order to optimize the emergency management, as well as improving the recovery time. In the current practice, damage inspections are performed by an experienced engineer, who physically inspect the structures. This way of doing not only requires a significant amount of time and high skilled human resources, but also raises the concern about the inspector’s safety. A promising alternative is represented using new technologies, such as drones and artificial intelligence, which can perform part of the damage classification task. In fact, drones can safely access high hazard components of the structures: for instance, bridge piers or abutments, and perform the reconnaissance by using highresolution cameras. Furthermore, images can be automatically processed by machine learning algorithms, and damages detected. In this paper, the possibility of applying such technologies for inspecting New Zealand bridges is explored. Firstly, a machine-learning model for damage detection by performing image analysis is presented. Specifically, the algorithm was trained to recognize cracks in concrete members. A sensitivity analysis was carried out to evaluate the algorithm accuracy by using database images. Depending on the confidence level desired,i.e. by allowing a manual classification where the alghortim confidence is below a specific tolerance, the accuracy was found reaching up to 84.7%. In the second part, the model is applied to detect the damage observed on the Anzac Bridge (GPS coordinates -43.500865, 172.701138) in Christchurch by performing a drone reconnaissance. Reults show that the accuracy of the damage detection was equal to 88% and 63% for cracking and spalling, respectively.

Ma Z, Zhao E, Granello G, Loporcaro G (2020). Drone Aided Machine-Learning Tool for Post-Earthquake Bridge Damage Reconnaissance. Sendai, Japan: 17thWorld Conference on Earthquake Engineering. 13/09/2020.
post-earthquake reconnaissance, drone inspection, machine-learning
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ANZSRC fields of research
Fields of Research::40 - Engineering::4005 - Civil engineering::400506 - Earthquake engineering
Fields of Research::40 - Engineering::4006 - Communications engineering::400608 - Wireless communication systems and technologies (incl. microwave and millimetrewave)
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