Machines could soon replace humans on some bridge inspection jobs, according to a key figure at Highways England.
Lila Tachtsi, asset management director at the roads operation and delivery body, said a “revolution” in the way artificial intelligence was used in civil engineering was “not too far away”.
Speaking at an NCE Future of Bridges event online recently, Tachtsi said computers could soon make decisions currently reserved for bridge engineers and inspectors.
“Artificial intelligence is changing significantly but it’s an evolution at the moment,” she said. “There will be a point where there will be a revolution – and that is not too far away.
“We certainly have an ambition to remove human intervention from some of these decisions – and I think we’ll get there.”
Speaking at the same event, Network Rail principal engineer Ben Wilkinson said drones would have a growing role on bridge inspection jobs.
“I think the use of unmanned aerial vehicles will be increasingly prevalent moving forward,” he told delegates. “We are already using them in a variety of different places on the network.
“There are advantages to being able to see structures close up and we can gain footage and information to do modelling.”
He added that for the foreseeable future, drones would primarily help identify locations for targeted inspection to be carried out by engineers.
Transport Scotland chief bridge engineer Hazel McDonald agreed.
“Drones and technology will help pinpoint locations where you want to put a person with a hammer and a pair of ears,” she said. “One will not replace the other.”
Department of Civil Engineering https://www.ibu.edu.ba/department-of-civil-engineering/