Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) for Intelligent Infrastructure
The main scientific challenges of this SHM research is to detect bridge condition using new generation low-power sensors including computer vision, infrared and UAVs.
The cost of repairing faults in a large structure once the fault starts to approach criticality, is enormous. If damage is prevented at an early stage, maintenance works will be carried out in a planned way and before the bridge can become damaged beyond repair. However, without monitoring, there is no easy way to predict how infrastructure will deteriorate over time. Infrastructure needs to be ‘smarter’, that is, to incorporate more sensors and algorithms that will monitor its condition and communicate this information to the infrastructure manager. the most pressing problem for infrastructure owners is the cost of providing mains power and data acquisition electronics on every small bridge in their network. Hence this proposed research project focuses on SHM systems that do not require mains electrical power on the bridge. Thes projects have used uses targeted sensors with minimal power requirements by making use of newly available energy harvesting smart sensors. To further reduce energy consumption and cost, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or ‘mosquito’ drones will be employed for the first time ever, in FlyMon to interrogate and download data at short range from the smart sensors attached to the bridge. Additionally, infrared cameras will be incorporated in larger drones for inspection of concrete bridges and to detect delamination before it becomes visible to the human eye.
Prof. S Taylor (Principal Investigator) - School of Natural and Built Environment, QUB
Impact of Research
This research in Structural Health Monitoring (SMH) systems from the USI funded projects has resulted in savings in excess of £50 million within a critically underfunded bridge maintenance budget in Northern Ireland and on-going research is supporting the DfI Digital Transformation Strategy for informed decision making in asset management. A recent LoS from DfI, for a REF Impact Case, highlighted that QUB SHM systems have repeatedly demonstrated that the findings of traditional assessment network is overly conservative and has been critical in allowing the safe extension of the service life of these assets. The expertise that is now available in Queens has enabled informed decisions on how and when to take action with greatest impact on each of the assets and minimise adverse environmental and social impacts.
The benefits of SHM are exponentially improved by coupling this with real-time data analytics models. This unique framework is now transforming the way the survival of 6798 bridges in NI are being monitored using the ageing bridge characteristics. Amey Roads NI (ARNI) is responsible for the overall Design, Build, Finance, and Operate Package 2 (DBFO2) Contract relating to 125km of the strategic road network in Northern Ireland. This 30 year, £250M capital expenditure project commenced in 2007 and includes all lifecycle and major maintenance of pavements and structures within the network. The ongoing collaboration with QUB, which resulted from USI023, has had significant impact on the management of our critical bridge and road assets.
Major grants and funding
Three USA Ireland Projects in the area of SHM (each project ~£1.2M with USA-Ireland partners).
USI023: Developing B-WIM Health Monitoring Systems to Extend Bridge Life Mobile Automated
USI067: Camera-Based Bridge Safety Monitoring
USI107 Fly-By Bridge Monitoring (FlyMon)
The following research projects have been obtained as a result of the USI awards:
1. £4M EPSRC/WTech Prosperity Partnership ‘Towards zero net emissions in public transport’ WP3 Intelligent Infrastructure – fleet approach to resilient infrastructure and the PDRF for this WP, Dr Darragh Lydon, was the DfE PhD student on USI067.
2. £0.5M 5-year Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship awarded to Dr Myra Lydon ( 1 of 7 awarded in 2017 in the UK) for research into SMART Infrastructure which aims to enhance the resilience of road networks through data analytics and greater interoperability across asset management systems [Note that Myra was the DfE funded PhD student on USI023 and the PDRF on USI067].
3. £250k EPSRC NIA Advanced Sensors and Modelling for Next-generation Bridge Management.
4. EPSRC IAA Award for Bridge Structural Heath monitoring (SHM) research to a broader network wide application which will explore the potential of a future digital twin of the Northern Ireland road network.
5. Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with McFarland Consulting to develop an asset management strategy by using condition and performance monitoring techniques for maintaining deteriorating assets to maximise market share in managing new/ageing infrastructure.
6. Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) Research for Birches Bridge West funded by Amey DBFOco in NI.
The following research project proposals have been recently submitted:
7. EPSRC Programme grant (~£5M) Probabilistic Structural Health Monitoring (with Sheffield, Exeter and Cambridge).
8. Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with FP McCann to automate production quality using computer vision systems that result in a more sustainable manufacturing practice, increasing efficiency and reduced carbon emissions.
9. EPSRC IAA for scour monitoring of masonry arch bridges using DfI data base of sensor information.
10. £250k EPSRC New Investigator Award (M Lydon) Prepare, Predict and Adapt Bridges to sustain the climate emergency.
Lydon, D; Taylor, S; Lydon, Myra; Martinez del Rincon, J; Hester, D (2020) Development and testing of a composite system for bridge health monitoring utilising computer vision and deep learning Smart Structures and Systems, Vol. 24, No. 6, 10.12989/sss.2019.24.6.723 (IF 3.622)
Dong, C. Z., Celik, O., Catbas, F. N., O’Brien, E. J. & Taylor, S., (2020) Structural displacement monitoring using deep learning-based full field optical flow methods Structure and Infrastructure Engineering. 16, 1, p. 51-71 21 p. DOI 10.1080/15732479.2019.1650078 (IF 2.431)
Dong, Chuan-Zhi;; Catbas, F. N; Obrien, E ; Taylor, S. (2019) A Robust Vision-Based Method for Displacement Measurement under Adverse Environmental Factors Using Spatio-Temporal Context Learning and Taylor Approximation. Sensors (Basel, Switzerland), Vol. 19, No. 14, 3197, 20.07.2019 10.3390/s19143197 (IF = 3.031)
Lydon, D; Lydon, M; Taylor, S; Martinez del Rincon, J; Hester, D; (2019). Development and field testing of a vision based displacement system using a low cost wireless action camera. Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing, Vol. 121, 15.04.2019, p. 343-358 10.1016/j.ymssp.2018.11.015 (IF = 5.005)
Lydon, D; Lydon, M; Taylor, S; Robinson, D; Martinez del Rincon, J; O'Brien, E ; (2018) Development and field testing of a time synchronized system for multi-point displacement calculation using low cost wireless vision based sensors. IEEE Sensors Journal, 06.07.2018. 10.1109/JSEN.2018.2853646 (IF = 3.084)
Lydon, M., Taylor, SE., Robinson, D., Amato,G., Brien,E. & Uddin, N. (2017) Improved axle detection for bridge weigh-in-motion systems using fiber optic sensors Journal of Civil Structural Health Monitoring. 7, 3, p. 325-332 https://doi.org/10.1007/s13349-017-0229-4
International Keynote Papers
Recent Keynotes and invited papers as a result of this funding:
Opening address as Vice-President of ISHMII at SHMII-9 (2019) the 9th international conference – in the USA, the official biannual conference of ISHMII https://shmii2017.org/
Towards resilient and intelligent civil infrastructure through SHM (2019) Keynote paper at 10th International Conference on Structural Engineering and Construction Management, Sri Lanka http://www.icsecm.org/2019/about/Keynote.php
Digital Transformation in SHM of Civil Infrastructure (2018) Opening Keynote paper at ASRANETs International Conference on Health Monitoring of Civil & Maritime Structures HeaMES 2018, London https://www.asranet.co.uk/Conferences/HEAMES
Advanced SHM using Computer Vision and Machine learning (2017) Opening Keynote paper at SHMII-8, Brisbane, Australia - official biennial conference of ISHMII https://shmii2017.org
Bridge Health Monitoring using Data Analysis (2017) Keynote paper at CSHM-8 Medellin, Colombia http://www.eafit.edu.co/cec/congresos/CSHM-7-2017/Paginas/home.aspx
Structural Health Monitoring of Civil Infrastructure to extend safe life (2017) Keynote paper at the International Congress on Materials & Structural Stability Rabat, Morocco in association with RILEM https://www.rilem.net/agenda/1113
Structural Health Monitoring to extend the life of Civil Infrastructure (2016) at International Geotechnical & Structural Monitoring Invited paper http://www.geotechnicalmonitoring.com/en
The School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen's University Belfast is one of several partners involved in this project. Details of all partners are as follows:
University of Central Florida
University of Alabama Birmingham
McFarland Associates (KTP partner following USI023)
Sustainable Development Goals
SDGs 11, 12 & 13 ( and associated with SDG 6 & 7) SHM systems have repeatedly demonstrated that the findings of traditional assessment network is overly conservative and has been critical in allowing the safe extension of the service life of civil engineering assets which are essential for travel and the supply of water and energy. This ensures a substantial reduction in CO2 which would be associated with demolition, new build and traffic disruption (also affecting air quality from exhaust fumes).
Find out more
- Professor Su Taylor
Professor of Structural Engineering
School of Natural and Built Environment
David Keir Building
Belfast BT9 5AG
- International Society for Structural Health Monitoring of Intelligent Infrastructure (ISHMII) is the global society for Structural Health Monitoring. Su elected as Vice President by the international members in 2016 and re-elected in 2019
- Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Ireland July 2019 (its highest honour)
- EPSRC Science, Engineering and Technology Board elected as 1 of 10 members across stakeholder groups to champion new research challenges at the cutting edge of EPS for future investment
- Membership of DfI Digital Strategy Innovation Steering Group formed in 2019 to lead digital change across the Department by supporting innovative approaches to meet the digital expectations of society.
- ICE William Bald National Award for PhD Thesis in Transportation Infrastructure
- PhD 3 minute Thesis Winner to Myra Lydon
- UK KTP Academic Ambassador awarded to Su out of ~1000 academics engaged in KTP and the first time this Award has come to NI.
- KTP Business Leader of Tomorrow Award with McFarland Associates