Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

New bridge monitoring sensors

An EU team has developed a mathematical model of a bridge, incorporating all relevant forces and motions. The group also compared new physical sensors and motion-tracking cameras against the model, the outcome being a low-cost bridge monitoring system.
New bridge monitoring sensors
Engineers have been building and maintaining bridges for thousands of years. However, modern wireless sensors and monitoring methods make the process more efficient and effective.

The EU-funded MOSP (Monitoring of structural performance) project accurately modelled the forces affecting one bridge, and used the information to support decision-making.

Researchers first queried several bridge authorities about difficulties and challenges, and also about measurements and information that might prove beneficial.

Next, the team developed the numerical model of the bridge, which showed relationships among key physical variables.

MOSP members developed several new sensor technologies and methods for use in bridge structural monitoring systems. Three new technologies were tested against conventional approaches. The list included wireless accelerometers for monitoring, ultra-sensitive accelerometers that calculate bridge movement in response to forces and movement-tracking cameras.

The team concluded that performance of wireless accelerometers equalled conventional versions. Given the easier installation, the wireless version resulted in superior monitoring. Load testing indicated that the sensitive accelerometer was equivalent to conventional movement-monitoring systems. Again, the convenience of the new technology proved advantageous. The physics-based numerical models also proved useful for making decisions regarding structural intervention.

Consequently, the consortium developed and field-tested a low-cost system that monitored bridge temperature and acceleration. The system utilised commercially available components. Results indicated that such low-cost systems are feasible, although requiring several new technologies such as those trialled.

MOSP's demonstration of new bridge monitoring technologies paves the way for general introduction of similar systems across Europe. Such systems may help improve maintenance outcomes while reducing costs.

Related information


Bridge monitoring, sensors, MOSP, structural performance, wireless accelerometers
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