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SHiMmer - structural health monitoring

Every two years, a team of engineers and technicians inspects all United States government-owned bridges in order to determine the "health" of the structure. However, as seen in the collapse of a Minneapolis bridge in 2007, these inspections do not always accurately reflect the condition of the bridge. Due to the need for better bridge inspection methods and in response to advances in sensor technology, sensors networks are being employed to enhance this two-year inspection requirement. These sensor networks can measure qualities of a bridge such as strain, temperature, and seismic activity, and using data processing, these measurements can indicate possible failure or need for repair.

 

Monitoring certain features of a structure over time and evaluating these features to determine the health of a structure is referred to as Structural Health Monitoring (SHM). Structural Health Monitoring is a popular area of research in the fields of embedded systems and structural engineering and encompasses not only bridges, but also other structures such as buildings, aircraft, spacecraft, and oilrigs. Currently, most deployed SHM systems are wired, and thus take a significant amount of time to install and are usually expensive. Current research, such as the work of SHiMmer, are working to develop wireless SHM systems in order to reduce cost, time of installation, and maintenance requirements.

The proposed solution exploits active ultrasonic SHM analysis applying high voltage SHM pulse and measuring the different responses of the structure over the time.