Michigan Leads Research on Smart Bridges

Minnesota-bridge-collapse A team led by the University of Michigan is working to create an infrastructure-monitoring system for bridges that would prevent tragedies like the collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis. The $9 million project is funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology Technology Innovation Program.

The engineers want to create smart bridges that can communicate with human inspectors and offer frequent updates on their health and stability. The program will choose several test bridges and install several different types of sensors, some measuring surface conditions and others penetrating into the bridges’ inner workings.

The sensors will check for surface cracks, corrosion and the way different types of pressure affect the structure. For instance, no one measures the way heavy trucks affect bridges, but the team will outfit big rigs with sensors that will give researchers their first glimpse of the kind of strain large vehicles place on infrastructure. All the information will be relayed wirelessly on a daily basis and will allow inspectors real-time information. It’s a method that might someday save lives.

Smart Bridges Under Development with New Federal Grant (University of Michigan)

By Stephen Markley | March 20, 2009 | Comments (3)
Tags: In The News


Scott J.

Who finds it ironic that Michigan is leading the way in using technology to monitor crumbling infastructure?

Jerry Lynch

As principal investigator of the project featured on this blog article, I would like to clarify. The project awarded to a joint venture led by the University of Michigan was awarded for nearly $9 million from the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Technology Innovation Program (TIP). The project involves 14 U-M researchers with the College of Engineering and the U-M Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). In addition, engineers at five private firms in New York, California and Michigan are key team members. The remaining funding comes from cost-sharing among the entities involved and the Michigan Department of Transportation and Caltrans.

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