U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
202-366-4000


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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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The photo is a screenshot of the of the NDE website’s title page. Along with the FAST NDE logo, is the webpage’s title “Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology, Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) Web Manual”. Above the title area are the following linked options: About; Programs; Resources; Briefing Room; and Contact. Buttons for the following social media websites are displayed in the upper right corner: Facebook; Twitter; YouTube; and Flicker. The lower portion of the title page is a photograph of the underside of a curving concrete bridge and of the columns supporting it. Four blue dots appear below the photo. Directly above the photograph are a second set of linked options entitled: Home; Find Technology; NDE Technologies; Glossary; Acronyms and Abbreviations; followed by the title of the webpage again “Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) Web Manual, Version 1.0”. The word “Motivation” appears in the lower left corner.

Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) Web Manual, Version 1.0

The FHWA Advanced Sensing Technology (FAST) and Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) Laboratory conceived and developed the NDE Web Manual to assist practitioners and end users with the proper selection of NDE technologies for the condition assessment of highway infrastructure assets. This Web Manual fill in a critical knowledge gap between the practitioners dealing with bridge performance challenges on a day-to-day basis and the researchers developing and refining NDE technologies serving them.
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The photo is an overhead view of four workers in yellow safety vests and white helmets on a deck. The bridge deck is marked with white paint spots that form a grid pattern. The front fender and wheel of a white vehicle can be seen in the upper left corner of the photo, along with an orange traffic cone. The leftmost worker is pushing an instrument mounted on a three-wheeled cart. The instrument has a display screen. The worker in the middle of the image is holding a smaller computerized instrument which is in contact with the deck. The two workers on the right side of the image are holding probes.

Nondestructive Evaluation Technology for Bridge Evaluation

A group of researchers utilized nondestructive evaluation (NDE) technologies to perform a detailed condition assessment of the deck with respect to corrosion, delamination, and concrete quality on the “Virginia Pilot Bridge.” This bridge deck has been monitored four times since 2009, most recently in May 2015.
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A large, white robotic device is in the foreground of the photo, along with two workers wearing yellow safety vests and white helmets. In the background, a large group of workers can be seen wearing yellow safety vests and helmets. The portion of the bridge in the photo is surrounded by large trees. The pictured device is approximately four feet tall and is straddling the white shoulder line on the left side of the bridge. The bridge is separated by a double yellow line dividing traffic. Two cameras mounted on extended rods/arms protrude from the front of the device, approximately one to two feet above the bridge deck surface, and are aimed toward the bridge deck. An additional undeployed camera arm is located in the front of the device. A black GPS antenna is mounted on the top of the device. The device’s wheels have blue protective covers. Two ground level arrays extend from the front of the device. A third array can be seen to the rear of the device.

RABIT™ Bridge Deck Assessment Tool

The Federal Highway Administration Long-Term Bridge Performance (LTBP) Program developed a multifunctional nondestructive evaluation (NDE) platform to enhance the assessment of concrete bridge decks. The RABIT™ bridge deck assessment tool was developed to deploy a suite of NDE technologies simultaneously.
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The back of an open white van is located on the right side of the photograph. Extended from the van is an inclined ramp. Centered in the photograph, a wheeled robotic device is being unloaded from the rear of a van by way of the ramp. One visible wheel of the device has made contact with the bridge deck, with the remainder of the device still on the ramp. The device is white, with various components folded up nearly flush along its left and right sides. The wheels of the device have blue protective covers in place. A worker on the far left is wearing an orange safety vest and white helmet, and appears to be controlling the robotic device with a laptop computer.

Unloading the RABIT™ from the transport vehicle

The FHWA LTBP Program developed a multifunctional NDE platform to enhance the assessment of bridge decks.
[Read more]

Centered in the photograph is a small airborne craft (approximately 12 inches in diameter). The device has four propellers mounted on equally spaced arms, and is in motion. In addition, the device has four stationary support legs and a small black device is suspended from the center of the device. The device is flying under a cement girder, with a portion of a stone column viewable on the right side of the image.

Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) for infrastructure evaluation

Recent advancements in robotic and image processing technologies have allowed researchers to utilize robotic systems, such as Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), in conjunction with NDE tools and image processing techniques for evaluation of transportation infrastructure, especially bridges..
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Overview

What is Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE)?

NDE is a means of analyzing and assessing the condition of various structural components of inservice highway infrastructure assets—pavement, bridges, and tunnels—without impairing their future usefulness.

Mission

The FHWA Advanced Sensing Technology (FAST) NDE Laboratory is a world-class national laboratory and is the keystone of FHWA’s research and testing efforts related to the application of nondestructive testing technologies for condition assessment of highway infrastructure. The mission of the FHWA FAST NDE Laboratory is:

  • …to conduct state-of-the-art research, development, and implementation of nondestructive testing systems and technologies to improve the Nation’s highway infrastructure assets.

 

Objectives and Goals

The laboratory was originally established in 1998 in an effort to centralize and better coordinate research related to NDE of steel and concrete material, and improve the state-of-the-art and practice related to nondestructive testing. Since its establishment, the NDE Laboratory has acted as a resource for the FHWA, State departments of transportation (DOTs), industry, and academia concerned with the development, deployment, and evaluation of innovative NDE technologies for condition assessment of highway infrastructure assets, which includes bridges, tunnels, pavements, and ancillary features such as sign posts and high-mast lighting. In addition, the laboratory has been providing forensic investigation services to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), among other agencies.

NDE Research Program Roadmap

In 2012, the FHWA NDE program held a two-day workshop in Alexandria, Virginia with the purpose of identifying research needs of the NDE program.  The workshop included nationally recognized experts in the fields of NDE and Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) from Federal and State DOTs, academia, and industry.  The result of the workshop was a prioritized list of pressing needs of the NDE program. Based on these pressing needs, the following research studies were identified to be the highest priorities for the FHWA NDE program:

  1. Improve existing NDE methods, technologies, and equipment.
  2. Perform cost and probability of detection analyses to provide for the inclusion of NDE into the design, maintenance, and inspection processes.
  3. Develop reference materials and specimens.
  4. Standardize NDE for condition assessment of highway infrastructure assets.

 

Based on the identified research studies, a strategic plan and roadmap, having a direct relationship with the strategic goals and objectives of State DOTs and FHWA, is being developed.

To address these needs and drive the program into the future, the NDE program incorporated the following components:

  • Robotic systems for bridge condition assessment.
  • Automated tools for data collection, analysis, interpretation, visualization, and fusion.
  • Noncontact sensors and remote sensing.
  • Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) systems.

 

Unloading the RABIT™ from the Transport Vehicle

The back of an open white van is located on the right side of the photograph. Extended from the van is an inclined ramp. Centered in the photograph, a wheeled robotic device is being unloaded from the rear of a van by way of the ramp. One visible wheel of the device has made contact with the bridge deck, with the remainder of the device still on the ramp. The device is white, with various components folded up nearly flush along its left and right sides. The wheels of the device have blue protective covers in place. A worker on the far left is wearing an orange safety vest and white helmet, and appears to be controlling the robotic device with a laptop computer.

The FHWA LTBP Program developed a multifunctional NDE platform to enhance the assessment of bridge decks. The RABIT™ bridge deck assessment tool was developed to deploy a suite of NDE technologies simultaneously.

 

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Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) for Infrastructure Evaluation

Centered in the photograph is a small airborne craft (approximately 12 inches in diameter). The device has four propellers mounted on equally spaced arms, and is in motion. In addition, the device has four stationary support legs and a small black device is suspended from the center of the device. The device is flying under a cement girder, with a portion of a stone column viewable on the right side of the image.

The NDE program has also applied these technologies in selected situations in order to assist the States in examining the nature and causes of anomalies or failures occurring on in‐service bridges and other ancillary structures. The laboratory, however, does not provide specific testing services nor is it a venue to be used to gain formal approval of equipment and/or methodologies for work with State DOTs.

With the new goals and objectives set for the NDE program, new collaborative studies will be planned. Please visit Planned Projects for more information.

 

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Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101

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