PI: Sebastian Scherer

University: Carnegie Mellon University

Non-destructive testing for inspection of the transportation infrastructure consists of recording measurements through contacting a sensor with the structure. Currently, this task is performed manually by inspectors climbing on the structures to reach the potential points suspected of having cracks, corrosion, thin coating, or other issues. The researchers in this project propose to reduce the risks and the cost of these inspections and to enhance the quality and the number of measurements by assisting the inspectors with a flying robot with an embedded arm capable of autonomously taking measurements of the potential points. In our previous work, the researchers on this project built a platform with tilted arms and a manipulator arm with the mounted measurement sensor that is capable of flying in any direction without tilting and is able to make contact with straight planar surfaces of structures by devising a visual servoing approach. In the next phase of this project, the team expects novel contributions to be the control algorithms and hardware modifications to enable approach and contact inspection of non-straight surfaces (such as I-Beams) with the added control over the duration and force of the contact. The developed system will be deployed and tested on actual bridges in Pittsburgh.