One-of-a-Kind Robot Inspects D.C. Area Bridges

By Mark Segraves
|  Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013  |  Updated 10:15 AM EDT
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One-of-a-Kind Robot Inspects D.C.-Area Bridges

NBCWashington.com

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It wasn't R2D2 but it looked like a scene from “Star Wars.”

A robot inching across the Memorial Bridge Monday had drivers turning their heads. It's a one-of-a-kind prototype developed by scientists at Rutgers University and it’s being used in the D.C. area to inspect bridges.

The robot uses ground penetrating radar, ultrasonic waves and high definition imaging to see inside aging concrete bridges.

It's like an MRI for bridges. Inspectors can use the robot to see inside the bridge to determine if the concrete or steel reinforcement is deteriorating.

The Memorial Bridge was damaged Sunday night when an SUV plunged through the railing and into the Potomac below, though that damage was not the reason for this robotic investigation.

The tests will be under way on local bridges for the next few days.

Follow Mark Segraves on Twitter at @SegravesNBC4

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