Integrated Light Maintenance and Inspection System for High-mast Poles

Report No: 05-CR11

Published in 2005

About the report:

Virginia highway high-mast light poles must be inspected periodically for structural defects to prevent failures. The visual inspection methods currently used include use of binoculars and telescopes and up-close inspection with bucket trucks. These methods, while simple, do not provide a continuous visual record (e.g., image or video data) of the inspection for archive and referral. Furthermore, they do not provide a thorough inspection near the pole-top - bucket trucks cannot reach this high, and the view angle of ground-based optical equipment does not allow for a clear picture of the pole face. This research project has produced a more thorough, ground-implemented inspection method which combines a video record of the inspection with the potential capacity to perform more detailed inspection methods (e.g., ultrasound or magnetic particle imaging). The built-in ring lowering system for maintenance of the lights, which includes the winch/cable/lighting ring hardware within the pole, is used to mount a video camera support structure that wirelessly transmits data from multiple cameras to a ground-based laptop computer. This laptop computer is used to wirelessly control the camera operation, record video data, and perform calculations to estimate and record crack dimensions and location. Extensive field tests have demonstrated the viability of this research approach. High-resolution video data have been archived of the entire pole surface for poles in southern and northern Virginia. Pole crack dimensions have been approximated by a post-processing software developed by this project. Field test demos and actual inspections have been conducted for VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) personnel with the device developed and described in this report. A provisional patent protection for this system has been obtained by the University of Virginia Patent Foundation. It is recommended that the system be further refined and new inspection technologies in addition to the video capture be incorporated through the continued utilization and development of the functionality of this device. In addition, the concept of integrating the tools for maintenance with the tools for structural inspection is a powerful concept and should be explored for other highway structures as well.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

Pradip N. Sheth, Dominick Montie

Last updated: November 29, 2023

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