Use of Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Transportation Infrastructure Condition Surveys

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2011-02-22

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This thesis provides an assessment of the effectiveness of micro unmanned aerial vehicles (MUAVs) as a tool for collecting condition data for transportation infrastructure based on multiple field experiments. The primary experiment entails performing a level of service (LOS) condition assessment on multiple roadside sample units at various locations across the state of Texas. A secondary field experiment entails performing a pavement condition index (PCI) survey on airfield pavements. The condition of these sample units were assessed twice: onsite (i.e., ground truth) and by observing digital images (still and video) collected via a MUAV. The results of these surveys are then analyzed to determine if there are statistically significant differences in the standard deviation and mean values of the condition ratings. This study shows that in favorable site conditions, the MUAV demonstrates promise for improving current roadway inspection methods. However, limitations of the MUAVs field performance show that there is need for improvement in this technology before it can be implemented.

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