Around 2,000 sensors will be installed on the Mackinac Bridge this summer as part of a Michigan State University research program to explore the “logistics of large-scale deployment” of low-cost sensing technology.
(TNS) — Michigan’s Department of Transportation says that the state’s iconic Mackinac Bridge will have more data-tracking sensors added to it this summer, this time in the form of tiny sensors from researchers at Michigan State University and Washington University in St. Louis.
The state agency says that the researchers will install about 2,000 of the tiny sensors with the goal of exploring the “logistics of large-scale deployment” while providing “useful monitoring data” to the bridge authority.
“The successful large-scale deployment of this novel low-cost sensing technology will dramatically transform the economics of bridge preservation/management and ultimately improve the serviceability of bridges,” Nizar Lajnef, Michigan State University associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, said in an MDOT news release.
“We also will explore how the collected data could be used for improved cost-effective, condition-based maintenance of the Mackinac Bridge structural components. We are very excited that this will be the first fully instrumented bridge in the country using advanced wireless and self-powered monitoring technology.”
Staff with the Mackinac Bridge Authority will assist with the installation of the sensors, as the state agency says they will also provide equipment and access to the bridge. As for the data recorded by the sensors, MDOT reports that the bridge authority will retain ownership while the researchers can use data for publication pending approval from the MBA.
Michigan State University will provide the tools to analyze and read recorded data while those from Washington University in St. Louis will provide the sensor prototypes.
“In addition to being a statewide need, the development of effective methods for preserving our transportation infrastructure systems is a critical national need,” Lajnef added in the release.
“Through this large-scale deployment, we would show that the system can autonomously monitor the loading experienced by the bridge components, and that the information from the sensors can be collected without significant human intervention and at significantly low cost.”
This comes after 20 “prototype infrastructure sensors” were installed on the bridge back in 2016. These previously installed stress sensors are “powered solely by vibrations from traffic” and have “performed as intended.”
MDOT says this original project was sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration.
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