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Virtual Nondestructive Evaluation Laboratory for Highway Structures

Project Information

Project Abstract: 

Bridge inspectors today are fortunate to have access to emerging technologies that can help gauge the internal condition of a bridge. For example, some tools use sound waves that travel inside a bridge; others use infrared thermography to detect temperature changes inside a structure. But inspectors and civil engineers acknowledge that these technologies have yet to be deployed to their fullest potential. One way to identify how to optimize these technologies is by developing a virtual environment where researchers can demonstrate new techniques in a realistic but shared, simulated environment and where engineers and inspectors can test new tools. Researchers at Drexel University, with assistance and funding from the Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), are doing just that. They are developing an online laboratory where inspectors and engineers can try out diagnostic tools with the latest in advanced technology to study and examine the condition of virtual bridges. The virtual laboratory includes data from real-life bridges, controlled specimens of structural elements, and technology used to assess structural conditions. The virtual bridges and bridge elements serve as “digital twins” of real-life bridges located in various parts of the United States; controlled specimens are developed in laboratories, meaning that these virtual bridges and specimens have the same problems or conditions as their real-life counterparts. Website visitors can use different tools to see how they would address the problems posed by these virtual bridges and specimens.

Project Status: 
Project Funding Amount (Contract Award Amount): 
Start Date: 
Thursday, October 1, 2015
End Date: 
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Public Access Plan: 
FHWA AMRP Program: 
Exploratory Advanced Research

Contact Information

First Name: 
Last Name: 
Phone Number: 
(202) 493-3064
Email Address: 
Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
Office of Research, Development, and Technology