Bridges are made to transport vehicles, not to make it easy for inspectors to do their job. That’s why inspecting the undersides and support pillars of tall ones is no easy task, either requiring people looking for problems to perform feats of contortion or the structure to go without review.
But infrastructure left without scrutiny is infrastructure bound to fail. In the case of the reinforced concrete that makes bridges, the test is a fairly straightforward one.
Inspectors use a device that checks for unseen corrosion within the concrete. The tool is an electrode attached to a wheel that detects big differences in electric potential within the material. This is a sign that corrosion—either from deicing salt that eats away the steel inside or atmospheric carbon dioxide that seeps in and changes the concrete’s chemistry—has set in and needs to be monitored.
The question is just how to get to those hard-to-reach spots. Now engineers and roboticists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) have developed a solution.
“The FCC’s controversial plans for a new version of net neutrality are still open for public comment for a few more days, and Chairman Tom Wheeler — continuing to fight charges that he may be a dingo — says it’s already received over 647,000 comments so far. The 60 day period for public comment runs out on the 15th though, so if you want your voice to be heard then about fast lanes, Title II or anything else, then now is the time.”—FCC’s net neutrality inbox is already stuffed with 647k messages, get yours in by Tuesday (via wilwheaton)