North Carolina Department of Transportation
Research & Innovation Summit – 2020

Bathymetric Surveys of Hydraulic Structures Using Unmanned Aerial Systems and Sonar

Authors: Tarini Shukla, Craig Allan, Wenwu Tang, Shenen Chen, John Diemer, Tianyang Chen, Navanit Sri Shanmugam, Vidya Subhash Chavan, and Matthew S. Lauffer
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  • Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Sonar based bridge inspections are economical and efficient.
  • Cutting-edge solution for effective monitoring and inspection of places or objects which are inaccessible or require specialized equipment.
  • Used for reconstructing 3D models of different hydraulic structures via photogrammetry techniques.
  • Scour depth along bridge piers and piles can be periodically measured by UAS. UAS derived point cloud is used to create high resolution 3D models which can assist for bridge risk assessment due to scours.
  • UAS is used in shallow and clear water streams for scour assessment, supplemented by orthoimagery and digital elevation models (DEMs) are produced from structure-from-motion SfM based photogrammetry.
  • Georeferenced sonar data are used in turbid deep water.
  • Kriging methods to construct geostatistical models of scour profiles, from the bathymetric data collected using UAS, sonar and GPS.


For questions about this research, contact Tarini Shukla at