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Drones equipped with sensors make infrastructure inspection more reliable and faster at INEGI

07 April 2021
Road and rail transport infrastructures, port and airport facilities, and energy production equipment are some examples of large buildings whose size and location made inspection difficult.

To improve this context, INEGI has integrated unmanned flight equipment into its portfolio of structural monitoring technologies. These devices, known as drones (UAVs), enhance the inspection of large infrastructures, which are difficult to access by other means.

This is the case of Madeira airport, namely the breakwater of the protection edge of the infrastructure. The monitoring of deformations of this construction was entrusted to INEGI, which has been using drones to obtain reliable information about its condition, and is already carrying out analyses of the change in geometry over time.

Wind energy production equipment presents a similar challenge, so the Institute's team has also used drones in this context. One of the applications involves, for example, developing algorithms that allow the application of infrared radiation vision techniques in the MWIR band for inspection of turbines.

More recently, within the scope of the MAREWIND project, the Institute is preparing to implement non-contact monitoring techniques supported by drones, to identify defects in the entire structure of the wind turbine.

Sensor systems monitor structures automatically and remotely

Combined with image acquisition and processing technologies, such as thermography technologies and 3D digital image correlation, drones "assist in making rapid measurements of large areas, monitoring structures over time and surveying without damage to the structure”, explains Pedro Moreira, director of the area of ​​advanced monitoring and structural integrity at INEGI." The reduced cost compared to other image acquisition systems, is also an advantage”.

The use of different sensor systems requires adaptation to UAV units, and the team of experts is working on "merging information from vision systems with different wavelengths, systems for inspecting rotating objects for damage, and behavior analysis structures, and even high-performance microphones”, adds Pedro Moreira.

The result is sensor systems adapted to each problem, and whose speed and efficiency of operation constitute significant advantages in numerous areas of application.