Wireless Sensors Open New Possibilities for Monitoring of Bridges

The collapse of a section of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia highlighted the importance of caring for our nation's infrastructure. A road or bridge unexpectedly going out of service can have lasting impacts on regional traffic, national commerce and local neighborhood ways of life.

In addition to the rapid response that helped reopen the section of the highway, ongoing monitoring of roadways and bridges is a proactive way to address problems before they become disasters. Researchers in Drexel University’s College of Engineering have developed a solar-powered, wireless sensor system that can continually monitor bridge deformation and could be used to alert authorities when the bridge performance deteriorates significantly. With more than 46,000 bridges across the country considered to be in poor condition, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers , a system like this could be both an important safety measure, as well as helping to triage repair and maintenance efforts.

The system, which measures bridge deformation and runs continuously on photovoltaic power, was unveiled in a recent edition of the IEEE Journal of Emerging and Selected Topics in Industrial Electronics in a paper authored by Drexel College of Engineering researchers, Ivan Bartoli, PhD, Mustafa Furkan, PhD, Fei Lu, PhD, and Yao Wang, a doctoral student in the College.

“With as much aging infrastructure as there is in the U.S. we need a way to keep a close eye on these critical assets 24-7,” said Bartoli, who leads the Intelligent Infrastructure Alliance in the College of Engineering. “This is an urgent need, not just to prevent calamitous and often tragic failures, but to understand which bridges should take priority for maintenance and replacement, so that we can efficiently and sustainably approach the preservation and improvement of our infrastructure.”

Read more at DrexelNews