Remember those deadly hurricanes back in last decade? Major worries about the destruction caused by the deadly hurricanes are the solidity of bridges and other transportation structures.
Furthermore, in 2009, a surprising fact announced by U.S Society of Civil Engineers has reported that more than one of four U.S bridges are detected to be functionally obsolete or structurally deficient.
Hence, newer version of smart bridges introduced by the construction companies have high projection on cost, making it irrelevant or unaffordable for strained cities, remote villages, or federal states with limited budgets for bridges.
University of Maryland researcher, Mehdi Kalantari has developed a tiny wireless sensor named SenSpot, of course at affordable cost that capable to transmits minute-by-minute data on a bridge’s structural integrity similar to conventional wired estimator, including the strain, vibration, tilt, acceleration, deformation and cracking, and able to estimate one-hundredth the cost of a wired network approach.
The wireless sensors are designed with less than five millimeters in the thickness, and are comprised of four thin, flexible layers. The SenSpot is built using four level of senses, the first detects and measures structural parameters, the second stores energy, the third transmits data to central computer for analysis, and the outer layer harvests energy from ambient light and radio waves.
The great benefit of the wireless SenSpot is the capability to quickly trigger an alarm, to give early warning to bridge users or the government authority body/department that dealing with bridges and transportation.
Kalantari added that the SenSpot sensors require no damaging drilling into the bridge structure, eliminating high maintenance cost since the SenSpot harvest energy from ambient light and radio waves.
Additionally, officials will have training for using the SenSpot correctly and will be able to identify problems as early as possible and will have weeks or month to fix existing problem on the bridge.
The field testing has also allowed him to track the bridges’ response to changes in weather conditions and traffic.
An average highway bridges needing about 500 sensors, while the self-adhesive and rugged properties SenSpot is priced at affordable price tag of USD20 per unit.
More info on SenSpot from Kalantari at Resensys LLC or University of Maryland’s Technology Advancement Program incubator.