The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLIII-B2-2022
30 May 2022
 | 30 May 2022


F. Ioli, A. Pinto, and L. Pinto

Keywords: crack detection, UAV, bridge, structural health monitoring, image binarization, concrete structures

Abstract. Monitoring cracks opening on concrete bridges is a key aspect for structural health assessment. Digital image processing, combined with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and photogrammetry, allows for non-contact 3D reconstruction of cracks, reducing costs and potential unsafe factors involved in manual inspections. This paper presents a flexible procedure based on UAV photogrammetry for accurate evaluation of cracks geometry, that can be implemented for periodic structural monitoring. Stereo-pair of images, acquired with UAVs close to the cracked surface, are used to build a scaled photogrammetric model through Structure-from-Motion. Cracks are detected on images by image binarization and digital image processing techniques. Thereafter, one single image is used to reconstruct crack 3D geometry, by back-projecting crack image coordinates on a 3D model of the object. This can be built from the current stereo-pair of images, or based on an existing photogrammetric model, in the case of a periodic monitoring set-up. Crack width is accurately estimated in 3D world. The procedure is tested and evaluated in a case study, obtaining millimetric accurate results, which is in line with the average ground sample distance of the images employed. Results highlight the potentials of UAVs and photogrammetry not only for bridge inspections and damages localization, but also for accurately evaluating cracks geometry and helping structural engineers to assess structure health conditions.