Australia’s first AI-enabled drone trial set to revolutionise Sydney Harbour Bridge maintenance

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Several bridges across the NSW road network will be maintained to the highest standards with the use of Artificial Intelligence-enabled drones.

“We are thrilled to embrace modern technology to ensure infrastructure like our iconic 90-year-old Sydney Harbour Bridge is preserved for this generation and the next,” Mrs Ward said.

“This new trial of cutting edge AI-backed technology is another step towards ensuring our bridges and road network are maintained to the highest standards.

“The sky’s the limit when it comes to this technology. It is a game-changer for preventative maintenance inspections, which normally take months to complete but can now be undertaken in less than half the time.”

Transport’s specialist digital engineers recently completed a three-week trial, putting the new technology into action under the southern part of the Harbour Bridge from Dawes Point Park. Trials were also carried out at Gladesville Bridge over Parramatta River and other bridges in regional NSW.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the new fleet of drones could easily access hard-to-reach areas, capturing the structure up close in 4K high-resolution images and rendering three-dimensional maps of their surroundings.

“Transport for NSW is responsible for maintaining thousands of kilometres of roadway and more than 6000 bridges across the state and is always looking at ways to make the maintenance process safer, less disruptive, more efficient and more cost-effective,” Mr Farraway said.

“This technology can play an important role in rapidly assessing the structure of our regional bridges and road networks following natural disasters.”

More than twenty drone pilots have been trained to see it rolled out permanently.

Transport for NSW has also added water-resistant drones to the fleet, tested in Parramatta, allowing maintenance crews to inspect the network in the rain and structures underwater.

Over the past six years, Transport for NSW has collaborated with major players in the field of autonomous and artificial intelligent drones, including the CSIRO, Emesent and Skydio.

Drones are integral to the Future Transport Technology Roadmap 2021-2024, providing a blueprint for how Transport for NSW uses technology and innovation to improve the state’s transport network.

Source: © NSW Government 2022

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