Culvert Inspection

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Traditionally, the surveillance of the inside quality of a prevalent culvert has required a physical exploration by an employee to get inside a make observations. These areas are often wet, dirty/muddy, unhygienic in terms of syringes as well as infested with bugs, spiders and other unwanted inhabitants. By sending a Drone inside this area, the user is able to control a constant altitude as well as 360 degree swivel option to view all parts of the inside of the pipe. Drones today are no larger than 1m x 1m in size, and continue to go smaller to the user’s needs, which is ideal for a space such as these. As the quality of the drone moves up, so does the accessibility of useful functions such as maneuverability of the camera separate to the drone itself, which allows a view of the top of the pipe to be captured and inspected. This eliminates health and safety hazards with all kinds of materials dropping from the roof of the pipe. Being inside a condensed space also provides a shelter from the elements of weather that affect some budget drones (such as wind speed affecting stabilisation or stationary ability of the drone, which allows easier piloting and better quality footage.

drone in culvert

These simple drawings show how the drone could be piloted into the culvert from a distance without the need for the inspections requiring people to physically go inside.

culvert view

culverts-for-stream-crossing edit 2

This shows the materials (water, dirt) that are often present when workers have to climb in and inspect the culvert. As shown, the drone hovers above this, which improves on current ideas of remote controlled devices such as cars that have trouble getting through if its thick.

The drone is shown above it from the view of the inside of a square culvert, showing the potential to capture footage and photos from al views depending on the camera angle and size of the drone in comparison to the area space. If an accurate scale can be modelled from the view of the drone (for example height and length of the damage within the pipe) then the amount of resources allocated to its repair can be fine-tuned to improve sustainability of materials used (eg. Supports).

An overview of what I need includes:

  • A 360 degree device for filming (this has to include the mount & cameras) – this will then be run through some kind of Software to analyse and utilize “click and drag” 360 degree viewing. I’ve found the software package that comes with the cameras and has excellent reviews, to which I’ve already started watching the tutorials to get an idea on how to convert footage to data useful for direction.
    This could be from a company in America Called 360Heros:
– Software 360CAMMAN-V2
– H3Pro6N 360 Plug-n-Play™ Holder
– 6 Go pros (Purchased Separately)


360 camera mount drone

360 camera mount drone 2



A flashlight option – I’ve included what I’ve found, but I thought you might have some ideas on a small and powerful light attachment that could possibly be integrated into the body of the drone. These being a singular bulb instead of say a flashlight that will add weight and size to the drone. If you look at the parrot night drone it has small LED lights. I was thinking something similar but more exposed perhaps all the way around the drone. So getting up to 10 and place them in spare space around the drone.


  • The drone itself – being small enough in size yet still the ability to attach the components needed for the research. The smallest available would be ideal, and culvert sizes can be seen in a second attachment

The aerial drone technology solution must meet the following requirements:

  • able to operate within an unlighted enclosed space of width 0.5m wide by 0.2m deep by 30m long.


  • capture visual images of culvert cell soffit, walls and base slab to a resolution which would allow 0.2mm wide concrete cracks to be identified
  • capture visual images of culvert cell soffit, walls and base slab to a resolution which would allow 0.2mm wide concrete cracks to be identified
  • able to inspect multiple (up to 20) bridge size culverts per day (without the need to return to an office/depot for battery charging during the day)
  • Procure aerial drone technology for a field test trial.
  • Perform field test trial of aerial drone technology solution.
  • Record observations and evaluate performance against objectives




One thought on “Culvert Inspection

    Quadcopter Narrative: Perspective « T H I N K Sam said:
    April 5, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    […] designed and built a drone for the RMS (Roads and Maritime Services) that is using both the drone technology available, as well as the 360 […]


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