The Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) J. Sterling Jones Hydraulics Research Laboratory has been working with the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) to develop a system prototype for inspecting culverts. The prototype system consists of an ultrasonic-based tethered system designed to display the images of culverts, and works both in air and in water. The work has been funded through the Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program. The initial proof-of-concept phase of the project was completed on August 4th, 2011 with the demonstration of technology to a wide audience at the TFHRC J. Sterling Jones Hydraulics Research Laboratory. Phase II development of field prototype unit was completed on April 30, 2013.
Both Phase I (proof of concept) and Phase II (field prototype development) have been completed. The objective of Phase II was the development of two units suitable for field implementation. While the field prototypes were useful for partially filled culverts, their manual skid-based transport mechanism was not proven to be practical for dry or fully filled culverts. As such, the government is considering a separate funding mechanism for the development of a rover/propulsion transport mechanism(s) for the dry and fully inundated culverts.