Inspectors might not have to examine bridges for visible damage directly on site as a result of new software that has been developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and scientists with the Italian company Infracom. The software makes use of an image processing program that detects irregularities in the bridge material. "The software automatically examines the photos of a bridge for certain characteristics and irregularities, for instance marked discoloration," says ITWM scientist Markus Rauhut. "Unlike a human, the tool doesn't miss any abnormalities--even minor damage is identified and signaled." The researchers used photographs of bridges to create metrics that include the characteristically elongated shape of a hairline crack, the typical discoloration in damp places, and the structures of the material, then created a database of the information. When a photo of a bridge is loaded into the program, the software compares the features of the new image with those of the saved images of the bridge. The software is designed to detect any irregularities and to mark the respective area on the photo, and inspectors can use the analysis to determine the degree of damage to a bridge. Engineers in Italy have been using the new software over the past six months to inspect bridges.
From Fraunhofer Institute
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