Synthesis of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Applications for Infrastructures

Luis Duque, Junwon Seo, James Wacker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


This paper is intended to provide the state-of-the-art and of-the-practice on visual inspection, monitoring, and analysis of infrastructure using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Several researchers have inspected various civil infrastructures, including bridges, buildings, and other structures, by capturing close-up images or recording videos, while operating UAVs. Various image analysis tools, such as the algorithm Morphological Link for Crack (Morpholink-C), were able to conduct precise measurements of crack thickness and length. Corrosion has also been detected using texture and color algorithms to investigate UAV-based images. Other analysis methods include structurally integrated sensors, such as digital image correlation equipment, which have helped to capture structural behaviors using UAVs. After the literature review was completed, a nationwide survey was distributed to Departments of Transportation (DOTs) to evaluate the current UAV-enabled inspection techniques that different DOTs have used or are planning to use for visual damage assessment for critical transportation infrastructures, especially bridges. Furthermore, a pertinent UAV selection was completed to indicate suitable UAVs for bridge inspection. Primary findings have shown that UAV-enabled infrastructure inspection techniques have been successfully developed to detect a broad variety of damage (including cracks and corrosions), and a few DOTs have used UAVs to inspect bridges as a more economical and versatile tool.

Original languageEnglish
Article number04018046
JournalJournal of Performance of Constructed Facilities
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support for this research was provided by the Federal Highway Administration through the Forest Products Laboratory (USDA–Forest Service). The assistance and cooperation of the South Dakota DOT is gratefully acknowledged.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Society of Civil Engineers.


  • Assessment
  • Damage
  • Image
  • Infrastructure
  • Inspection
  • Measurement
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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