26 September 2023

Harbour bridge drones take to the sky

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Transport for NSW (TfNSW) is to revolutionise the way essential inspection work is carried out on the Sydney Harbour Bridge with an Australian-first drone trial.

Announced by the Minister for Metropolitan Roads, Natalie Ward, the artificial intelligence-enabled drone trial has seen more than 20 drone pilots trained to date.

“It is a game-changer for our preventative maintenance inspections, which would normally take months to complete, but can now be undertaken in less than half the time,” Ms Ward said.

“Transport’s specialist digital engineers recently completed a three-week trial, putting the new technology into action under the southern part of the Harbour Bridge from Dawes Point Park,” she said.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Sam Farraway said the trials were also carried out at Gladesville Bridge, over Parramatta River, and at other bridges in regional NSW.

“The new fleet of drones can access hard-to-reach areas with ease, capturing the structure up close in 4K high-resolution images, and rendering three-dimensional maps of their surroundings,” Mr Farraway said.

“Transport for NSW is responsible for maintaining thousands of kilometres of roadway and more than 6,000 bridges across the state and is always looking at ways to make the maintenance process safer, less disruptive, more efficient and more cost effective,” he said.

“This technology has the potential to play an important role in rapidly assessing the structure of our regional bridges and road networks following natural disasters.”

Mr Farraway said TfNSW aimed to rollout the trial permanently.

He said the Department had also added water-resistant drones to the fleet, tested in Parramatta, “allowing maintenance crews to inspect the network in the rain and structures underwater.”

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