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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Railroad Bridge Inspection Using Drone-Based Digital Image Correlation

Document Series
Research Results
Federal Railroad Administration
Report Number
RR 23-02
Subject Track
Autonomous drone flight control, stereo digital image correlation, remote bridge inspection

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.

Last updated: Friday, February 17, 2023