The Victorian government will deploy internet of things (IoT) sensors to remotely monitor the structural health of high-priority bridges as part of a new joint venture with Xerox.
Transport infrastructure minister Jacinta Allan announced $50 million in funding to develop and roll out the technology through a new company, Eloque.
It follows earlier trials between rail operator VicTrack and Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC), which has developed the sensors.
The fibre optic-connected sensors will be used to reduce disruptions by “accurately measuring and estimating structural strain, thermal response, bending, loads, vibration and corrosion”.
“The technology analyses data collected from the sensors using advanced analytics to deliver information directly to the bridge owners and operators remotely,” the government said.
“Data can be seen in real-time so the bridge manager can monitor whether a bridge has structural problems, has been damaged or needs repair.”
The sensors will be capable of identifying problems that are “not visible to the naked eye” or do not show up in manual inspections, meaning issues can be found and rectified earlier.
Allan said the technology will ensure problems are identified before they become a “big costly problem that causes unnecessary delays to Victorians”.
With thousands of state-owned bridges across Victoria, the government also plans to use the sensors to better prioritise maintenance budgets and target high-priority infrastructure fixes.
In 2018, around 68 percent of the 3027 bridges managed by the then VicRoads required some level of repair, while 43 percent hadn’t received a detailed inspection in more than five years.
The government is planning to roll out the technology progressively, starting with bridges that deal with heavy loads on a regular basis and that are most at risk of deterioration.
The technology could also extend beyond bridges in the future, including roads, multi-storey car parks, tunnels and ports.