The Republic of Korea Railway Research Institute (KRRI) has developed a system to automatically inspect railway infrastructure, such as bridge abutments, using drones and artificial intelligence technology. The system includes a drone, a mobile drone control ground station and fault detection software based on image processing. This was reported by Railway Supply magazine, citing zdmira.


The drone is equipped with two video cameras to detect defects such as cracks, peeling and chipping concrete, exposed rebar, water leaks and corrosion. KRRI reports a defect detection rate of more than 85 percent.

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Images captured by a drone are detected with over 90% probability. The location of the defect is detected to an accuracy of 100 mm, allowing the creation of a damage location map. The drone’s flight is controlled by an automated navigation system without human involvement, with a positioning accuracy of up to 700 mm. The maximum flight range is 1 km, even in areas with poor GPS signal coverage. The results of the functional test, which was conducted over a three-month period, were deemed satisfactory by the test authority. The state certification body Korea Testing Laboratory (KTL) confirmed the compliance of the automated system for monitoring infrastructure conditions with national safety standards.

The system was designed by KRRI as part of a $6.99 million national research program of the Ministry of Public Areas, Infrastructure and Transport of the Republic of Korea (MOLIT). The system was designed by KRRI under a $6.99 million national research and development programme of the ministry of public land, infrastructure and transport of the republic of korea. In addition to KRRI, the national operator Korail, KNR State Railways, Sejong University, and vendors Yukon System and Softgraphy also participated in the project to develop an automated monitoring system using unmanned vehicles. The system has been under development for four years from June 2019.

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