by: Janet Aslin, Bridges for Peace
Most of us drive over bridges without a thought for our safety—or lack thereof. Yet many of those structures are, in fact, dangerously unsound. A quick internet search for “bridge collapses” reveals an alarming number of global catastrophic events, usually with many human casualties. For instance, 43 people were killed when an aging bridge in Genoa, Italy collapsed in August 2018. The same year, the Majerhat Bridge, another older structure in India, also gave way.
The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) reports that “the average age of a structurally deficient bridge in the US is 67 years.” America’s interstate highway system was begun in the 1950s and essentially completed by the 1980s. Consequently, many of its bridges fall into the danger zone. ARTBA reports that in 2016 the US had 55,710 structurally compromised bridges.
Some bridge failures are due to design defects, while others are simply the result of extended use with little to no repair work. Most of the time the signals of impending disaster cannot be seen with the naked eye, or if cracks are visible, it is difficult to determine the true extent of the problem.
Dynamic Infrastructure, a startup founded in 2018 by two Israeli entrepreneurs, has developed a way to actually look inside bridges and tunnels. Using proprietary technology, the company compares a series of images taken over a period of time, analyzes them using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and produces a visual 3D record—similar to an MRI in humans—of the structure.
In 2019, Red Herring recognized the company as one of North America’s most exciting and innovative private technology companies, stating: “Dynamic Infrastructure has developed and successfully implemented the first ever deep-learning engine which allows bridge and tunnel operators to proactively receive inspection-grade insights which can reflect an asset’s true condition and predict developing defects before they evolve into large-scale failures.”
Currently the company is overseeing the health of bridges and tunnels in five nations. As more entities responsible for highway maintenance adopt Dynamic Infrastructure’s technology, roadway structure collapses may become a thing of the past.
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