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Exploring the Effectiveness of SAR Imaging Techniques for Bridge Damage Detection


Concrete span and columns in an outdoor test laboratory at UNR are being used to replicate bridge collapse in high resolution airborne SAR imagery.

Reno, Nevada is the site of an ongoing experiment to determine the effectiveness of using synthetic aperture radar imagery (SAR) to detect highway bridge damage. The remote sensing company EarthData is tasked with the acquisition of airborne imagery for various bridge failure modes, such as fallen spans or tilted structures, which are set up in the outdoor laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) test facility. This digital representation is being processed by ImageCat, Inc. and then validated against a SAR simulation model, run by the University of California, Irvine (UCI).

Ian Buckle is providing the test bed at UNR, while Masanobu Shinozuka is managing the SAR simulation work at UCI. Ron Eguchi leads a team of remote sensing experts at ImageCat that includes Charles Huyck and Beverley Adams, who recently collaborated with MCEER to publish the review of ‘Emergency Response in the Wake of the World Trade Center Attack: The Remote Sensing Perspective’ (

This Highway Project task (sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration) augments research concerning the use of remote sensing technology for detecting highway bridge damage following extreme events, such as earthquakes, funded through the NASA/US Department of Transportation National Consortia for Remote Sensing in Transportation (NCRST) initiative. Supplementary results from the SAR simulations will be integrated into the existing DOT study.

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