Detection of large-scale concrete columns for automated bridge inspection
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There are over 600,000 bridges in the US, and not all of them can be inspected and maintained within the specified time frame. This is because manually inspecting bridges is a time-consuming and costly task, and some state Departments of Transportation (DOT) cannot afford the essential costs and manpower. In this paper, a novel method that can detect large-scale bridge concrete columns is proposed for the purpose of eventually creating an automated bridge condition assessment system. The method employs image stitching techniques (feature detection and matching, image affine transformation and blending) to combine images containing different segments of one column into a single image. Following that, bridge columns are detected by locating their boundaries and classifying the material within each boundary in the stitched image. Preliminary test results of 114 concrete bridge columns stitched from 373 close-up, partial images of the columns indicate that the method can correctly detect 89.7% of these elements, and thus, the viability of the application of this research. 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.