Machine Learning Approach to Visual Bridge Inspection with Drones

Junwon Seo, Euiseok Jeong, James P. Wacker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


This paper presents a machine learning approach coupled with image visibility optimization techniques to enable more efficient visual bridge inspection when relying solely on remote-controlled drones. This approach involved convolutional neural network (CNN) considered a representative machine learning algorithm and image analysis of optimized high-resolution imagery collected with drones. To evaluate the efficiency of this approach, remote-controlled drones were utilized to detect and measure the damage of two timber bridges located in Minnesota. Visual inspections on each of the bridges were initially performed in 2019 with two drones (DJI Phantom 4 and DJI Matrice 210), which resulted in a total of 66,572 extracted images. Then, the CNN was trained with a large number of extracted images containing varying damage types (i.e., cracking, weathering, and spalling) and attempted to classify the damage in an effective fashion. The visibility of the images that were classified per damage type through the CNN training was optimized by fine-tuning different properties of its images to take a measurement of damage specific to critical sections for each bridge. Included in the image properties were brightness, contrast, and sharpness. Through the analysis of extracted images from both timber bridges, the integrated CNN coupled with an image visibility optimization approach demonstrated the capability of improving the visibility of the damage and the accuracy of damage measurement.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStructures Congress 2022 - Selected Papers from the Structures Congress 2022
EditorsJames Gregory Soules
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780784484180
StatePublished - 2022
EventStructures Congress 2022 - Atlanta, United States
Duration: Apr 20 2022Apr 23 2022

Publication series

NameStructures Congress 2022 - Selected Papers from the Structures Congress 2022


ConferenceStructures Congress 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support for this research was provided by the United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Products Laboratory (USDA-FPL) Agreement No. 18-JV-11111133-031. The assistance and cooperation of Pipestone County in Minnesota are acknowledged.

Publisher Copyright:

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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