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The National Academies

Safety IDEA Project 37 [Active (IDEA)]

Measuring Behavior of Railroad Bridges under Revenue Traffic using Lasers and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for Safer Operations: Implementation

  Project Data
Funds: $98,997.00
Staff Responsibility: Velvet Fitzpatrick
Research Agency: University of New Mexico
Principal Investigator: Dr. Fernando Moreu
Fiscal Year: 2018

This research will implement the development and testing of using UAV with sensing laser technologies to assess the structural condition of simply supported spans, thereby informing subsequent prioritization of the need for more detailed inspections. The new hardware and software will be tested both at the Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI) from the Association of American Railroads (AAR) out of Pueblo, Colorado and the CN railway bridges, in coordination with their bridges and structures group. Input from industry and Los Alamos National Laboratory will ensure the applicability of this innovation. Ultimately, the project will lead to a new low-cost tested technology that allows for non-contact total displacement measurements of real bridges under train crossing events. This research is consistent with Rail Safety IDEA Topics for Investigation requesting innovative approaches to improve railroad safety and performance of rail access. The main emphasis of this research is freight traffic and transportation, but the application is expected to assist any other type of railroad operations such as passenger and intercity passenger rail.

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