FOCUS ON EUCENTRE: bridge continuous structural monitoring and assessment


EUCENTRE Foundation, European Centre for Training and Research in Earthquake Engineering, is a non-profit organisation that promotes, supports and sustains training and research in the field of risk mitigation.
In the D4S project EUCENTRE brings its expertise in bridge damage inspection and structural assessment, in the relevant WPs. In WP4, the role of EUCENTRE is to supply the dataset for identifying structural elements and damage to be used for the training and validation of AI algorithm, and to implement a bridge structural assessment methodology accounting for the presence of damage. The support for drafting protocols and planning for bridge inspection to be implemented in the system is an additional role carried out within the project. Finally, EUCENTRE coordinates Work Package 7 (system integration and case study), within which is responsible for the bridge use case.


INFRASTRACTURE USE CASE SELECTION: the D4S system operating on site

Currently we are working on the implementation of a simplified methodology to perform structural assessment of bridge/viaduct infrastructures starting from a visible damaged conditions detected after an inspection (carried out also with the support of drones). The goal is to provide to the managing infrastructure authority useful data to support decisions about the usability and maintenance of the infrastructure system.
Furthermore, after an initial contribution to the system definition and the screening of different possible test locations, we are now focusing on several aspects related to the test of some functionalities of the D4S system in different use cases in real-world, simulated and/or controlled environments (with a specific focus on bridge UCs). In particular, for what concerns the real-world bridge use case selected, in collaboration with Deep Blue, a detailed safety and operative assessment has been carried out in order to design the use case application in compliance with the regulatory prescriptions according to the relevant scenario (e.g., qualifications for the pilots and the drone operator, safety buffer, authorization from the infrastructure manager, etc.).


DAMAGE INSPECTION AND STRUCTURAL ASSESSMENT: the infrastructure safety is our goal

In our opinion, a proper human-expert based training and validation dataset is a necessary condition for the success of an autonomous/automatic AI damage detection system. In this context, our expertise in bridge damage inspection and structural assessment contributed to drive the D4S system technology towards the actual final goal: the safety of the infrastructure systems.The results obtained from the structural assessment of bridges and viaducts are intended to support decisions of the management authorities.
Last, but not least, different use cases have been designed for the validation and test of some functionalities of the D4S system, in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of the different subsystem developed within the project.

REGULATORY FRAMEWORK: issues and constraints

The drone regulatory framework, both at national and European level, is currently in a “work-in-progress” phase especially for what concerns multi-drone autonomous operations. The significant amount of time and effort required to obtain the R&D authorizations, and the fact that a fully integrated version of the D4S system prototype will be available only in later stage of the project, were the major issues and constraints experienced in the design of real-world use cases for the validation of the system. The actual use cases have been selected after an initial wide screening of possible test locations, and a detailed risk assessment to be in compliance with the regulatory framework has been carried out in order to identify pro and cons of different operative scenarios and subsystem validation options. The agreed solution was to overcome the impossibility to test all the functionalities of the D4S system “as a whole” in a single real-world scenario, and to demonstrate and validate each main subsystem in at least one of the multiple selected use cases (in real-world, and/or in simulated environments).


Martina Mandirola

Integrity, safety and serviceability of the transport system are all fundamental and urgent targets that need to be guaranteed, as highlighted by recent tragic events. With this in mind, our wish is to provide advanced technologies supporting the optimisation of the inspection activities for the enhancement of the transport system safety. It is a pleasure and high-motivating opportunity for us to work in synergy with all the other project partners to accomplish this achievement. The complementarity of expertise as well as the integration of the competences have been crucial to face the challenges at the base of the innovative ambition of the D4S project and, in general, in transforming applied research into tested solutions in operational environment.

Author :
Martina Mandirola, researcher at the EUCENTRE Foundation, with the contribution of the EUCENTRE team (Dr. C.Casarotti, Dr. B.Borzi, Dr. I.Senaldi, Dr. A.Famà, Dr. E.Brunesi, Dr. S.Peloso, Dr. I.Lanese). 

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